I Think I Have a Breast Abscess

Updated on October 13, 2008
L.M. asks from Phoenix, AZ
36 answers

My right breast is extremely painful (I've been pumping only since my baby's birth 3 mos ago since she wouldn't latch on). But last night it was excrutiating, so I pumped and that didn't really help. this am i have bad body aches and a low fever. I called my OB, but I was wondering if any of you have and other advice? The doc will probably tell me to take antibiotics, which I'd like to avoid. I took tylenol.

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So What Happened?

it turns out I do have mastitis like everyone said. I have been taking antibiotics since yesterday. I still don't feel great, but a little better. My one breast is still painful and my fever is back down to 101. It went up to 103 (or more) yesterday. My mom is coming up to help me with the baby today. I still have body aches (not as severe as yesterday), so I walk slowly and it hurts to hold my baby when she presses on my r. breast. so anyway. I seem to be on the mend. Thank you everyone!

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T.R.

answers from Phoenix on

When I had a breast abscess, my doctor just had me get breast heating pads (heat up in the micro) and apply them to my breasts before I would pump. It was quite painful, but after a couple of days it went away. Hope this helps!

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K.H.

answers from Albuquerque on

It could be thrush, which is a yeast infection that is transferred from nipple to the baby's mouth.

It's very painful, but easily taken care of.
Ask your doctor, just in case.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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D.L.

answers from Phoenix on

HiLeigh,
Get a copy of the Nursing Mothers Companion. It is a great book and was very helpful when I had a fever, pain and clogged milk ducts. Do see your doctor but feel your breast and find the lumps or hard bits where you're clogged up . Work from the outside in towards the nipple massaging inwards. I had the best luck doing this in a warm shower. Stay at it and I would check frequently just to stay on top of the problem even after this clears up. Nure frequently on the sore side as that will also help move things along and try massaging while your child is nursing. Good luck and don't stop breast feeding! Debra mother of 2 and I breast fed one child until 3 years of age due to food allergies.

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L.H.

answers from Phoenix on

L.,
It sounds like you have mastitis.

"Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that causes pain, swelling and redness of the breast. It most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding, although in rare circumstances this condition can occur outside of lactation.

Often, mastitis occurs within the first six weeks after birth (postpartum), but it can happen later during breast-feeding. The condition can leave you feeling exhausted and rundown, making it difficult to care for your baby.

Sometimes mastitis leads a mother mistakenly to wean her baby before she intends to. But you can continue breast-feeding while you have mastitis.

If you have mastitis, it is safe to continue breast-feeding. Breast-feeding helps your breast clear the infection.

To relieve your discomfort:

Maintain your breast-feeding routine.
Avoid prolonged engorgement before breast-feeding.
Use varied positions to breast-feed.
Drink plenty of fluids.
If you have trouble emptying a portion of your breast, apply warm compresses to the breast or take a warm shower before breast-feeding or pumping milk.
Wear a supportive bra.
While waiting for the antibiotics to take effect, take a mild pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others).
If breast-feeding on the infected breast is too painful, try pumping or hand-expressing milk."

copy and pasted from MayoClinic.com
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mastitis/DS00678

Good luck...

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S.R.

answers from Phoenix on

I hope you antibiotics kick in soon! I had it once and I felt like I had been run over. All good advice, heat, massage, etc. Keep nursing and nurse a lot, it will help as well. Good luck and I hope you feel better. Rest every chance you get when your mom is there. Lay in bed and have her bring your baby to you.

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B.M.

answers from Phoenix on

I would go to my OB. It is possible that you have a clogged duct or even mastitis.

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J.K.

answers from Albuquerque on

I had a similar experience, I also developed a lump under my armpit that I was concerned about. However, when I went in for a check up with my OBGYN, she said everything was fine. After a while everything calmed down and I was able to nurse without pain.

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S.L.

answers from Tucson on

I agree that taking antibiotics is something to avoid. I would also be avoiding Tylenol though as it causes liver damage. My suggestion for an all natural and safe anti-inflammatory that is also anti-viral and anti-bacterial is Una de Gato. It is a vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest and is sustainably harvested by the indigenous people so no deforestation occurs through its use - plus you get the added benefit that it has been grown wild, not farmed with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. You can get it as a tincture all by itself, or in combination with some other herbs that specifically target the natural inflammatory response in the body. You can't get it at a store though so if you would like a web link where you can take a look at more information or place an order, let me know.

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M.I.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi L., It sounds like you have mastisis (sp?). I've never had it so I don't have personal experience but from what I've read you'll most likely need antibiotics. Do you need to wait til Monday to see your OB? If so, you may want to go to the emergency room. You should look under previous requests on that here because I've seen it mentioned before.

Sorry you're feeling so bad, hope you feel better soon!

M.

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J.L.

answers from Tucson on

Hi L., you probably have a clogged milk duct. One way to help that is to pump with your breast "hanging" over the pump. That way gravity helps in pulling the clog out. If you can put warm compresses over your breast before pumping or have a hot shower or bath, it will help also. I've heard wives tales about keeping cabbage leaves on the breast too, but I'm not so sure what it does. But, take tylenol for pain, warm compresses and pump, pump pump until that clog is gone. Massage the breast while pumping. But, I am very serious, "hang" the breast so that gravity helps draw it out. Antibiotics are not always needed, but, you have to do your part in trying to remove that clog. Good luck, and I know it hurts!! I had them several times!! Fever, pain, chills, etc.

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E.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi L., I know breastfeeding can be a complicated and painful process. I had a really tough time with it too. Good for you (and baby) for sticking with it!!!!

My best advice would be to call a lactation consultant. I can't say enough great things about Doris. I'm sure she could at least give you some over the phone advice about how to soothe your pain. Check out her web-site and give her a call. http://www.pump-n-go.com/

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C.H.

answers from Flagstaff on

You probably have a clogged duct. When I had this I didn't know about any such thing. Changing the position of the breast pump helps. I used a heating pad and massaged deeply. Sometimes hand compression helps. Pumping more often than you usually do helps. Hot showers are good too. Please be careful because it can be serious. The best thing to do is to pump since your baby won't latch on. I know that nothing may come out but keep doing it. On that breast that was clogged I massaged while pumping making sure to change the position as much as I could every now and again. I hope you don't get a reduction in your milk like I did. Once my duct was cleared my fever and body aches went away but my breast was still sore for awhile. I hope that helps you.

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S.B.

answers from Phoenix on

L.,
It sounds like you may have Mastitis. (Excuse the spelling, it may be incorrect.)

My advise,
Get in a tub and make the water as hot as you can possibly stand it. Turn over onto your belly so your breasts are completely immersed in the water. Rub the sore area. It will hurt, but will eventually feel better. Let your milk drain into the water. It will help that clogged mink duct clear up and you wont ache. The problem is that it may have gone too long and antibiotics may be the only answer. Try the extremly hot water. I have had 4 children... all of which I nursed. I got it with every single one of them. When I got out of the tub, my whole body was red because the water was so hot, but it never came back.

Also, If your pumping only... I wonder if you are just not able to get the mink from that 1 milk duct. Try rubbing the area softly before pumping to see if it will allow the milk to drop and come out more easily.

Good luck!!
Steph

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R.G.

answers from Albuquerque on

Glad you sought medical help! I too had mastitis but waited too long to get into the OB/GYN and it developed into an abscess. This was the most painful experience of my life! I had to have it surgically drained and had a tube and drain stitched into the breast. I was on bedrest for a week and ultimately had to stop nursing. I still have pain and really wished I could have continued nursing. One thing I learned is to always listen to your body and beware of the warning signs: redness in breast, hardness, soreness, fever, chills, aches, etc. I tried to massage the breast, apply heat and was even told by the lactation specialist to apply red cabbage but I think I needed antiobiotics to help heal the infection. I'd like to hear from other women who have had an abscess to see if they had problems nursing other children after having an abscess. I would really like to nurse my next child but not sure if I can handle the pain again.

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B.C.

answers from Phoenix on

I don't know much about what you're dealing with at this exact moment, but once it's cleared up, perhaps you can focus on trying to get your daughter to latch on again. I let down better for my son than I do for the pump so the pump doesn't always releave me of all of that milk.

My son wouldn't latch well so I went to a cranial sacral therapist and a chiropractor. He's doing great now. My boy couldn't seem to open his mouth wide enough. Not sure what you're dealing with, but maybe my experience can help you.

I see Dr. Deborah Gooch in Cave Creek. ###-###-####. Or, you could go on www.upledger.com to find a cranial sacral therapist in your area. Look for CSP or CST-D designations as these pertain to education in helping children in cranial sacral therapy.
Good luck,
B.

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C.D.

answers from Phoenix on

An abcess is more like a bump in the duct. The Dr. does a fine needle biopsy (which, surprisingly, isn't painful at all, even with an inflamed breast!), and usually happens when mastitis has gone on too long. In other words, I've had it, and the biopsy showed no cancer, but did show (ick) pus - high rate of bacteria. I had to have surgery to remove it. If there's no bump (a bump, not a lump. A clogged duct could cause a lump, which I also have had, which can turn into an abcess. Massaging it in the shower and nursing on that side a lot (I know, ouch) will help.) you probably have just mastitis, which is still not to be taken lightly. When you are at the flu level, it's gone too far. Get thee to a doctor right away, and yes, antibios will be prescribed. It could be as much as 4 days for you to get relief. Augmentin is one of the ones they like to use. It will not hurt your baby, but is necessary to you. Your baby can still nurse through all of this. Try again to nurse, too, since pumping really doesn't empty the breast enough, which can lead to mastitis.

The surgery was no fun - in by 7, home by 4, but I was knocked out, and it was in the hospital, with all of its inherent risks. I still have pain in the area where it was removed, and had to keep putting gauze in the hole as it healed. So please try to prevent this from happening to yourself. I subsequently got sepsis, and was hospitalized for a week (not from the surgery, though, but from more mastitis). THAT was no fun and I hated being away from my baby for so long.

I'd go to Urgent Care in the morning, since it'll be Sunday. And rest in bed with your baby.

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L.C.

answers from Phoenix on

Not fun, I'm sorry you're going through that. Hang in there! That's great that your mom is able to come and help out- what a blessing! And congratulations on your new little sweetheart! :)
-L.

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S.P.

answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like you have mastitis (not sure of the spelling). i also had this and it happens when one of your milk ducts gets blocked. If you already have a fever, you may notice that your breast is red and also feels warm. I would go to your doctor asap. They will give you antibiotics that will be okay with breastfeeding. It will not go away on its own and once you have had it, you are more likely to get it again. After one day on antibiotics I was no longer in pain! Hope this helps!

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T.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hi there-

I really recommend applying a warm moist compress (heating pack under a wet washcloth will work well), then massaging the lump in your breast towards the nipple using medium to hard pressure. Pump after using the heat, and continue to massage the breast while you are pumping. Do this until the clogged ducts have softened.

It hurts quite a bit, but it really helps a lot. You can take Ibuprofen or Tylenol for the fever and pain. Hope you're feeling better soon.

T.

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L.Z.

answers from Tucson on

Sounds like mastitis which means you will need to be on antibiotics. I had it while nursing my daughter. My breast was painful, sore & red & I also felt like I had the flu. It's important to keep pumping. Hope you feel better soon!

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M.S.

answers from Albuquerque on

L.,

How are you feeling today? I agree with the other posters that you should see a lacation consultant or doctor if your breast pain is coupled with body aches and low fever.

I've had a couple of plugged ducts and this following combination really worked. I took Lecithin (form of vitamin b) several times a day and I used Wish Garden's Mastitis Remedy. I also recommend the warm showers &/or wash cloths too. I really like Wish Garden remedies - if you are in Albuquerque, you can get them at Whole Foods or Pharmaca. Here's more info on the Mastitis Remedy by Wish Garden herbs (scroll down to the middle of the page):
http://www.wishgardenherbs.com/index.php?load=pregnancy&a...

Here is some more information about mastitis, lecithin and other remedies from Kellymom:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/recurrent-mastiti...
This combination worked wonders for me, but I didn't have a fever.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

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C.M.

answers from Tucson on

Vitamin C, water, & heat on your breast..... sleep.... that is what I did when I got what you have, it's called mastitis.... hope this helps, even though it is a day later than when you posted. :) Pump even though it hurts.... blessings!

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A.R.

answers from Tucson on

Dear L. M, My great grandson is now 7 months old. My granddaugher went through an abcess. You need the antibiotic and also the doctor told her to massage the knot to try and break up the abcess. She could not get hers broken up so had to have the abcess surgically removed. It took about a month to completely heal. Please see your OB and take the antibiotic. May God bless.

A.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I'm not sure why the "anti-antibiotic" campaign...if you have a legitmate bacterial infection (which mastitis IS) you SHOULD get on an antibiotic. For heaven's sake, why suffer longer than necessary? Take your antibiotic, take some Tylenol for the fever, pain, and drink TONS of water to flush your system and keep yourself hydrated. Keep massaging your breast...in the shower is best with the water and heat. Antibiotics are not something to fear unless you are using them unnecessarily, and I can assure you that this is NOT one of those times. I had mastitis THREE times with my second child, discovered it was ASPARTAME that was causing it (I was drinking Crystal Lite every day), and have avoided it ever since. Bless your heart for enduring this for so long, but please get some help and take care of yourself for you AND your baby. Good luck and God Bless.

A.

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C.L.

answers from Phoenix on

When I had it I
Took Tylenol
Pumped every hour
Massaged my brests
Showered every two hours and let hot water hit my brest and pumped in the shower
Drank liquids all day. Probably a gallon. Soup, water
Laid in bed and slept all day

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J.S.

answers from Phoenix on

You may have a blocked milk duct, in which case you need to keep expressing milk. It may be worse and be mastitis which will NOT go away by itself. You must take anti-b. I feel the same way you do about them but you don't want to get too sick and not be able to take care of your baby girl. I have had both and they are both extremely painful. Please call a Dr. ir lactation consultant for help. Take care, J.

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N.B.

answers from Phoenix on

When I had mastitis I drank 100% purple Grape Juice by the gallon it has natural antibodies. A warm compress helps as well.
N. Mom of 5

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A.P.

answers from Flagstaff on

So this is what happened to me but i avoided the antibiotics, and sat in a hot bath as hot as I could stand soaking my breast. It was a clogged duct and I just scrubbed with a washcloth for a few days, soaking a few times each day. Taking Lecithin helps the milk run more free and will prevent this in the future. You can get a really great one that you just add to your yogurt and it tastes delicious. Otherwise just drink lots of water and take care. Since you did have to take antibiotics, however, I would definitely be sure to take some pro biotics when you are finished to rebuild up those good bacteria that the antibiotics killed off.

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K.M.

answers from Albuquerque on

you may need antibiotics because i am not sure how bad it has gotten for you. the key is to start treating the breast as soon as it begins causing you pain, feeling sore, or feeling hard. i had this happen to me a few times; usually when there was a transition in feedings(a decrease in night feedings for example). my breasts were used to an extra feeding and it would take a day or two for my body to adjust to the decrease. in the meantime my breasts would be engorged and even after pumping would be tender, hot, and have hard spots. i never had to take antibiotics, but i would take hot showers and let the water run on my breasts while i massaged them and hand expressed some milk. i also bought some gerber gel packs from target in the nursing section that you can heat up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and put them on your breasts and i would massage them with the pack on as well. try massaging the breast while pumping or feeding as well. this will usually unclog any blocked ducts and give you tremendous relief! i could usually correct the problem in one day doing these things. good luck!

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J.S.

answers from Phoenix on

Get in a hot shower for as long as it takes to massage, and hand express that lump away. I do this a lot and I have been able to bring myself back from fever/chills with no antibiotic. You may be in the shower for 30 min or more, but it works. Otherwise, a heating pad or heat and massage. You have to rub and express even though it hurts so bad, to get it out of there. Good luck.

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M.E.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi L. -

There are some herbs that can be taken for breast engorgement, such as plantain, chamomile, yarrow and marshmallow. These herbs can be drunk as a tea or used as a poltice to relieve the symptoms. They are also safe while you are breast feeding.

What part of town do you live in? I will try to direct you to a local herb store if that is your desire.

In the mean time, use moist towels, as warm as you can stand them, applied externally to the swollen breast. This should help ease the soreness. Also, if you have some castor oil, you can make a poltice of the oil, on a clean towel, wrap in plastic wrap (to keep from getting on your clothes or bedding) before you go to sleep tonight. By morning, most women who have used this method have found relief.

Blessings,

M. M. Ernsberger
Certified Clinical Herbalist

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A.H.

answers from Phoenix on

If it is an abscess, you need to get it drained.

You may want to research the use of grapefruit seed extract as an extremely powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. It comes in a liquid, which is extremely bitter but very powerful, or as a tablet which is far more palatable but not quite as strong. Both come from the brand "Nutri-Biotic."

When I use the liquid, I buy a package of empty gelatin capsules (available at Sprouts and other places that sell herbal medicine) and put the liquid in that.

I dose at the rate of 1 drop of GSE per 10 pounds of body weight. If a person weighs 100 pounds, they would take 10 drops per dose. A 200 lb person would take 20 drops per dose. In a health crisis, I would dose every 4 hours for the first day, then 4 times a day until symptoms have been gone for 3 days.

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V.J.

answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like mastitis to me. I had a bout of mastitis while breastfeeding each of my sons at the point where they started sleeping through the night because there was that 8-9 hr gap between feedings. Your symptoms sound pretty spot on from my experience. I had a fever, chills, body aching, and lethargy. It felt similar to the flu. I also had extreme pain in the affected breast and the skin looked red. If you have mastitis, you will need to take antibiotics because it is an infection. If not treated, it can develop into an abscess which is much more serious. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that will not harm your baby. I would recommend you see your doctor right away.

Before pumping, apply a warm, moist washcloth to your breast to encourage the milk to flow. Either before or while pumping, massage your breast working your hands from your sternum toward your nipple. Often a plugged duct is what starts the issue and massaging can help to work it out. It will hurt but once the duct is clear, your pain will start to subside. This site has lot of good information.
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/mastitis.html

I hope this helps! :)

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S.C.

answers from Phoenix on

L. there is a very good chance that you have Mastitis which is very painful. I had it when my son was 9 months old and i hadn't breast fed him at all. The doctor explained it to me as the milk ducts getting blocked and becoming inflamed and then infected. You may or may not be able to express milk from that breast for the time being, it depends really on how much pain you are having, although being able to keep the milk flowing and the breast from becoming rock hard by massaging it will also help. Your other problem is that you are having body aches and low fever so it is unlikely that you can take care of this just by yourself. You MUST take care of this. Go and see your doctor so that they can look at it first. In the meantime warm towels and then ice packs, warm towels, ice packs, just keep alternating applied to the breast and that can can ease a lot of the discomfort. Please go and see your doctor ASAP. As much as you want to keep supplying your baby with your breast milk your health has to come before that or you will feel too unwell to take care of her. I am an ex nurse with the experience of two bouts of Mastitis.

Good luck.

S..

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A.

answers from Albuquerque on

It may be too late to avoid antibiotics this round, but to prevent mastitis in the future, you can:
take poke root tincture
take lecithin
REST and nurse like crazy when you feel it coming on
massage and showers

I was really prone and after my first experience, which included an abcess and trip to a surgeon, I did whatever I could to avoid it! If you need to take antibiotics, be sure to take probiotics and evengive some to your baby. I would also consider working with a lactation consultant to try to get baby to latch on. A baby is WAY more efficient than a pump and will help clear out any blockages.

Good luck!

Next question: Clogged Milk Duct or Mastis??