Breast abscess is mastitis taken one step further. Prolonged and untreated breast infection leads to the formation of a pus-filled pocket.
It looks like a well-defined reddened bulge on the breast and causes extreme pain.
This condition is rare. Mastitis occurs in 10%-30% of breastfeeding mothers. Abscess happens in less than 1% of nursing moms.
In rare cases it starts without any prior well-defined condition.
Swelling may look similar to clogged milk duct, but it is better defined and very painful. In any case, best advice is to consult your doctor.
Breast infection is usually accompanied by flu-like symptoms and extreme pain.
There may also be pus discharge from the nipple. This is how infection drains. Don’t try to squeeze the pus out. This will spread the infection inside the breast.
Breast infection doesn’t usually resolve itself and requires surgical drainage and antibiotics. If drainage is required, a doctor will make an incision for the pus to come out or will use a needle.
If antibiotics are prescribed, make sure your doctor knows you are breastfeeding. Antibiotics prescribed to the breastfeeding woman are safe for the baby. But your doctor needs to know you are nursing. Take the entire course even if condition improves.
It is safe to nurse your baby even with the pus discharge. I know how it sounds. But this pus won’t harm your baby. It needs to drain. The more the baby sucks, the faster it drains.
In addition, it helps maintain milk supply. If you feel uncomfortable breastfeeding from this breast, pump and dump. You can still effectively nurse from one breast until the other one heals.
Your baby may refuse to nurse from the infected breast due to the change in taste and milk composition. If that's the case, try to pump and dump.
If an incision is made, breastfeed and pump carefully to let it heal. If the incision is left open for drainage, cover it during breastfeeding. Milk and pus may leak from it.
I know it all doesn’t sound like it adds any fun to the breastfeeding process. However, timely diagnosis and treatment of a breast infection makes it manageable. Antibiotics and drainage provide fast relief.
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.