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A breast abscess is not very common, but can affect some breastfeeding women. Generally, when a breastfeeding woman faces a blocked duct which is not addressed, it could develop into mastitis. When mastitis is not treated in time, there’s a high possibility of infection that contains pus. This is a breast abscess which is very painful.

Diagnosis :

A breast abscess can be diagnosed by ultrasound. There are very less chances for a breast abscess to go away without aggressive medical treatments that include surgical drainage or aspiration of the breast.

Treatment :

The surgical process can damage breast tissue, which in turn can affect supply. Therefore, it is important to make sure that minimum breast tissue may be affected during the process. This can be done by making sure two things –

  1. The incision is made as far away from the nipple as possible
  2. The incision is made from nipple to chest, rather than around the breast. (when incision is made around the breast, it may be an aesthetically better option, but making incision from nipple to chest ensures minimum tissue damage)

Another important thing is to request for the fluid (the infected pus that is drained from the breast) to be cultured. This helps in identifying the infection and having the right antibiotics prescribed for yourself.

Breastfeeding During Breast Abscess :

Just like it is safe to nurse during a blocked duct and mastitis, it is safe to nurse the baby while having an abscess. However, it could be excruciatingly painful to breastfeed for most women at that time. Once the surgical process is over, the mother can resume to breastfeed the baby even from the affected breast if it is not too painful. If it’s too painful or if the incision is too close to the nipple, the mother might have to wait for a couple of days before starting to nurse the baby again. It is essential to keep hand expressing the milk until direct breastfeeding resumes in order to keep the milk flowing and to avoid having the breast engorged. The more efficiently the brain is drained, the faster the healing. You can read a great and inspiring story here about continued breastfeeding while suffering from a breast abscess.

References :

https://www.laleche.org.uk/mastitis/#BreastA

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459122/

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Disclaimer
We understand and acknowledge that parents and babies can be of various genders on a spectrum of LGBTQI+. Families come in diverse flavours. However, in our articles, for the sake of simplicity and convenience, we will be referring to the breastfeeding parent as the mother and using the female pronouns- ‘she’ and ‘her’ for babies. Babies can be nourished and nurtured in different ways and while we have used the terms breastfeeding and nursing, we recognize that parents can opt to chest feed or finger feed.

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