At this point however: it's very much NOT going away on its own, and I'm beginning to feel like I should get it checked out. I've been hesitating because ds is still nursing, and I don't want to wean him abruptly,if, God forbid, something should be really wrong.
But I may be changing jobs soon and losing my insurance, hence (some of) the urgency.
I have a 17 month old, still breastfeeding, same situation. At my annual pap smear, my ob/gyn noticed some "lumpies" and ordered me an ultrasound. I didn't go for 2 months. She didn't even ask me about breastfeeding issues, but wanted to be safe about cancer stuff. With cancer rates so high(especially in Western New York where I live), most doctors will automatically run you through a million tests for malignancy. My ultrasound was fine, and shortly afterward I spoke with a friend who was experiencing mastitis from an ignored plugged duct.My symptoms sounded just like hers, though mine haven't progressed to mastitis. You may not be on that path- but If I were you I would seek a midwife or naturopath who is familiar with the needs of breastfeeding women. They will actually ask you questions about your situation, not just run tests and prescribe antibiotics. Also, are you co-sleeping and breast-feeding on one side only, putting pressure on that gland so it doesn't empty fully? Do you wear underwire bras that dig into a spot? There is alot of information "out there," don't be driven by fear. Chances are you are fine, and just need to show yourself some love! If you feel like it is a plugged duct still, there are many homeopathic options, like phytolacca and belladonna.
I understand your insurance issue, same for me too. If you know you will have coverage, wait for the new insurance, because if it is more than a plugged duct, the new company may not cover pre-existing conditions. Gotta love our health care system!!!
I had a lump appear the exact same day my mature milk came in (3 days after delivery). I thought it was a plugged duct. I ended up getting mastitis because the duct was unable to drain (due to the lump). Well after the mastitis went away (with a prescription from my midwife) it left a grape sized lump in my breast. It didn't hurt but my midwife said that it wasn't normal to have a lump and referred me to a surgeon. The surgeon felt the lump from the outside and requested that I have an ultrasound (ultrasound instead of mamogram due to breastfeeding my 2 mo old at that time). Then they decided based on the uncertainty of the ultrasound that I should have a fine needle biopsy (there are 2 different kinds) done to find out what exactly the lump was and to rule out cancer.
My dd was 4 mo old when I had the biopsy done. Before the biopsy I did a TON of research online trying to find out what to expect. Esp on the LLL website. It was a little scary since the drs (I had great drs) hadn't had much exp w/ breastfeeding moms so they couldn't tell me what to be expecting post procedure (ie-my milk came out looking like strawberry milk for 4-8 hrs but I knew it was ok because I read about that happening). Let me tell you knowledge is power! Never did the drs suggest that I wean dd (I wouldn't have anyways) BUT I did get wrong information from some of the them along the way. Thank God for the LLL because they provided me with the correct information. (ie-The drs told me not to nurse her on that side for a few days which was wrong but actually perfectly safe).
The biopsy came back that I had (still have) a lactating adenoma. And it will never turn into cancer. It doesn't bother me or harm dd in anyway so it's still there. I'm in no hurry to have it removed if I ever do. OT-I personally think my lactating adenoma stems from me taking birth control pills faithfully for 9 yrs...never again!
I would definately get it checked out just to be sure...esp while you still have insurance. I'm not one for MD's very often (I use self healing, homeopathy & nutritional healing) but you never know and it's best to be certain what it is.
The process and the biopsy wasn't bad at all. Almost all surgeons will not operate on a lactating breast. Just an FYI-If you ever decide to have it removed there is a better way for the surgeon (if he can or agrees to) to make the incision that would minimize the # of milk ducts cut (it a vertical incision instead a horizontal I believe). Oh and all of this happened before I lost my insurance too.
Keep us posted
Do you have a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding? Pages 127-129 (7th edition) give some very good advice and tell the stories of a couple of women in your position. Definitely worth locating a copy.
"A lump that stays constant in size or enlarges needs to be checked by a doctor... Most lumps in a nursing mother's breasts are either milk-filled glands or inflammation, such as a plugged duct or a breast infection. Some are benign tumors (fibromas) or milk-retention cysts (galactoceles). Only in the rarest cases are they due to cancer." (p. 507)
And definitely worth seeing your doctor or locating a bf friendly doctor.
You should definitely have it checked and consider an ultrasound and aspiration or core biopsy, which should be less intrusive and require less healing time than actual removal.
If you are married and DH is eligible for a health insurance policy you may want to consider signing up for that to avoid any waiting periods for prior existing conditions.
My situation is similar. Back in the Summer/Fall of 2005 I noticed a very small lump, on an off, during some pumping sessions. Later in the Fall I noticed it when I was running interference on DD's "twiddling". It seemed larger. I spoke with my OB over the phone and his office scheduled what I expected to be an ultrasound and fine needle aspiration. It turned out to be just an exam. The specialist felt that since it was small, had well defined borders and moved around that there was a 99% chance it was benign. Due to the changes during nursing and pregnancy (I was 24 1/2 weeks pregnant at the time) he recommended a 6 month followup.
That wasn't good enough for me so I followed up for the ultrasound and --I thought-- an aspiration. They did the US but still no aspiration. The US was consistent with the specialist's exam. After careful consideration I pushed for anything that would result in getting a sample to test. It took an email to the specialist to get yet another appointment that turned out to be yet another exam. He seemed willing to aspirate but imagine my surprise when he recommended removal because they don't like to leave lumps in women of my age. (!?!?!?!)
So, I had it removed under local anaesthesia on Friday, 4/7. I am waiting for the pathology report.
I think the change in recommendation was largely due to the fact that my lump was so close to the surface that there was no risk of cutting any ducts. Otherwise, he probably would have done the aspiration, but only because I insisted. I'm still not entirely sure he understands how important it was that I not wait until I had a newborn nursling in August to possibly find out it needed to be removed then.
Right now there is minimal interference with DD's nursing. She is 19 months old and while she isn't thrilled to be limited to one side she is doing better than I thought. Since my supply dropped a long time ago due to the pregnancy I'm not really at risk for a plugged duct and mastitis.
Good luck, ~Cath
Ooops, I missed the "happily unmarried" part of your signture block. Thanks for not taking offense.
I'm glad you are leaning towards having it checked. I know it's a balancing act since the job change may affect your insurance. It does occur to me that if you currently have insurance that the next carrier might not be able to deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition. I don't know if that is a Massachusetts or a Federal law. I forget whether that also means that there is no "waiting period" on eligibility for the new policy; that might not be controlled by law but rather by the employer's internal rules.
Obviously you can't ask your current or potential new employer too many pointed questions. But you may want to consider doing some online research since the insurance issue obviously affects the financial aspect of your decision.
Not to be an alarmist but since reading your original post I have seen one or two postings on these boards (or maybe a different set of boards), that notes "Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)" can be confused for Mastitis and unnecessarily delay a correct diagnosis.
Here is a link to the IBC Research Foundation site.
One more point, since your DS is older, 17 months, and presumably getting most of his nutrition from solids then it may not be the end of the world if you had to wean him off of the affected breast. I would think there's a good chance you could still nurse him on the other side.
I had my lump removal last Friday and 19 month old DD has been limited to the right side ever since. She has taken it much better than I expected. Occasionally when she asks for the other side I have to remind her I've got a boo boo and then she goes back to the right side.
At the risk of seeming pushy or intrusive I would really encourage you to get started on this sooner rather than later. JMO.
Good luck and please keep us posted. ~Cath