Q: Hi Doc. I am a breastfeeding mom and l have discovered l have a painful lump in one of my breasts, Could it be cancer? Should l stop breastfeeding?
A: Painful lumps in the breasts of breastfeeding mums may be blocked milk ducts. Usually your milk ducts block if you’re making milk faster than you’re expressing it and indeed you should feel some relief every time you breastfeed from that breast…so stopping breastfeeding may just be making a bad matter already worse
What causes this milk duct to block? It could be that your baby is not latching on well to the breast and thus not sucking enough from that breast. It could be that you don’t feel well and are not feeding baby often enough, or you decided to wean baby suddenly. Other causes include tight nursing bra, sleeping on your tummy, a nursing pump that’s not powerful enough, a blow to the breast or it could just be that a feed was skipped.
Solutions? Nurse your baby some more, ever so often….especially from that particular breast Yes I said that. Baby sucks hardest then and hopefully that strong sucking action would dislodge the plug. Otherwise try a nursing pump or just use your hands to express the milk.
Placing warm towels on the affected area may also help the breast milk flow faster and thus dislodge the plug.
Rest as much as possible, eat healthy (loads of fruits and veggies) and use pain relief, like Paracetamol, if needed.
If this condition is not handled immediately, it could lead to an infection of that duct (mastitis) such that the skin over that area feels hot to touch, reddens, mum feels feverish, ill and aches all over. This infection is usually treated with a course of antibiotics, which will be prescribed by your doctor.
So, if you try all the suggestions above and don’t improve, please see your doctor to confirm if this is an infection or indeed something else.
Have a great weekend, y’all