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Lumps in the breast during breastfeeding: why they occur and how to relieve them

Breastfeeding is the ideal food for the first six months of life, but sometimes it is not easy and problems often arise.

Breast lumps are very common, and knowing how to prevent and treat them is important to avoid complications.

Why do breast lumps appear?

A chest mass usually corresponds to an obstruction. Milk circulates through the ducts in the breast (called milk ducts). When one of these ducts is blocked, milk will build up.

This leads to a lump in one area of ​​the chest, accompanied by pain and sometimes redness. They can appear due to an incorrect emptying of the breasts (in the first day after the baby is born, poor latch or excessive time between feedings), for example by compression (for example, wearing a very tight bra OR sleeping in a crib). Specific chest area) or infection.

What to do if they appear?

Warming is controversial, although warming before feeding was often recommended in the past to improve milk flow, but we can make the infection worse. The current recommendation is to use cold medicine between meals to reduce inflammation.

It is recommended that your baby nurse frequently and keep his chin towards the blocked area, as this is the best way to empty it. For example, if we find a lump on the side of the chest near the armpit (the area where obstacles occur most frequently), the position of the rugby ball will aid excretion in that area.

In addition, we can perform circular massages on the nipple before and during feeding (be careful not to let the baby get off).

If the pain is very severe, the mother can take pain relievers (paracetamol or ibuprofen). To check the compatibility of any medicine with breastfeeding, visit the website www.e-lactation.org.

Usually the blockage will clear up in 2 to 3 days and will usually decrease after taking the medicine and increase again after a few hours.

How to prevent them?

Although they are sometimes unavoidable, we can take some precautions to avoid them. I think the most important thing is that any breastfeeding mother needs to be aware (not just to avoid blockages), because breastfeeding has to be done as needed and there is no schedule.

Breasts should be provided frequently and whenever the baby requests it. Although it seems like a lot, it is often the case that newborns need to be fed 8 to 12 times a day. We must also bear in mind that they are the ones who decide when to breastfeed (they let go or they fall asleep), we must let them empty a breast and then give them a second (many times they do not want it and there is no need to let it suck on 2 nipples). In every shot).

Another tip that I usually give my mother when she is born is to change her posture as much as possible so that all parts of her chest are empty. It is also important to wear the correct size (unconstrained) nursing bra to avoid blockages.

When to suspect mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, which can sometimes be caused by an infection. Sometimes it does not cause obstruction and can cause mastitis. If there are systemic symptoms such as general malaise, fever, chills or headache as well as finding a painful lump in the breast and red and swollen areas, we will suspect a breast infection.

In this case, the breasts must be emptied correctly, we can apply cold compresses to reduce inflammation and take analgesics and antipyretics. We may also need a doctor-prescribed course of antibiotics. Most antibiotics are compatible with breastfeeding, despite mastitis, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding.

Other causes of breast lumps while breastfeeding

Although due to one of the above reasons, the most likely cause of breast lumps during breastfeeding is obstruction, there are other reasons that can cause breast lumps like galactocele, abscesses, or tumors (benign or malignant).

Flagellum cysts are breast cysts. The fat content of the milk accumulates on the outside of the pipe, causing lumps. It is more likely to appear during weaning and is a benign disease. Unlike locks, this type of lump will not change in size after eating and will not be painful. The area is not red. To diagnose it, the gynecologist can perform an ultrasound. The ciliary bulge may disappear spontaneously, but in some cases, the gynecologist may need a puncture to empty it.

If the breast abscess cannot be resolved properly, it is a complication of mastitis. When we touch the chest, we will find that the painful lump moves, and the area will turn red or purple, shiny and “tight.” It is not always feverish. The gynecologist will need to empty the pus by needle aspiration (fine needle aspiration) or through a small surgical incision.

Hamartoma, fibroadenoma or lactational adenoma are benign tumors that can appear during lactation and should be evaluated by a gynecologist.

Although this is fortunately rare, the appearance of breast lumps can also correspond to breast cancer. Therefore, before breast lumps persist, we must contact an expert.