Breastfeeding Complications: What the heck is a Breast Abscess?

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An abscess is a lump that is filled with pus, if it is specifically a breast abscess, it is occurring in the breast.

A breast abscess occurs typically when Mastitis is not treated appropriately. They typically occur after five days of the antibiotic treatment. Although you can still develop one without Mastitis.

An breast abscess will show as a tender lump that does not move when milk is expressed. This is one reason it is important to measure how far backs a lump is.

Imagine your nipple as a clock. What number does it fall behind? Then how many finger widths back does it go? Maybe it’s at 2 o’clock and 3 finger widths back. The goal of doing this is to see is the lump is moving when milk is being released. (What the heck are Plugged Ducts?)

In order for the lump to be diagnosed as an abscess your doctor will need to do needle aspiration. This is when your doctor will lance the lump and withdraw fluid from it. This seems nerve wrecking, however it is considered very safe and offers minimal complications. After the needle aspiration you may be put on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.

The best thing you can do is to go to your  doctor as soon as possible. There has been an increase in the possibility of the abscess being caused by meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA.

The recommendation for whether to continue breastfeeding varies by care provider and healthfulness of your baby.

  • If your baby is healthy and full term it may be recommended to continue breastfeeding, even on the affected side. However to not expose your baby to your skin patches with the infection.
    • One thing to remember, your baby was exposed to the MRSA infection within your breasts well before you knew it was occurring.
  • If your baby is preterm or in NICU, it may be recommended to stop breastfeeding.
    • If you want to continue breastfeeding you can pasteurize your breastmilk or you can pump and dump the milk until the infection clears up.

Risks of Breast Abscess:

  • General pain and discomfort
  • Decreased milk production due to the pain decreasing frequency of feedings
  • May be MRSA infection

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