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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Lump in Breast While Breastfeeding: Is it Mastitis or a Plugged Duct?

Lump in Breast While Breastfeeding Is it Mastitis or a Plugged Duct
Ah, all the wonderful benefits from breastfeeding! Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mom and baby. Breastfeeding is the best thing that you can give to your new baby, and it also helps mom relax in those first few weeks after bringing baby home. Nothing is more special than laying with your baby, enjoying those new baby smells and sounds..until you get that sharp pain and a lump in breast while breastfeeding. What the heck is that?

I remember when I was pregnant with my son, now 3 months old. I had a terrible breastfeeding experience with my first 2 children and wonderful experiences with my other 2 children. Here I thought I knew everything when it came to nursing baby #5, but nothing prepared me for this agonizing pain and feverish feeling! Thankfully with the help of the Internet, I was able to diagnose myself before putting a call into the OB.

I had mastitis.

Symptoms of Mastitis

I don’t even know how it all came about really, but it happened suddenly. One day, I noticed that I had a small lump at the top of my breast while breastfeeding, and I would massage it out when my son was nursing. Then, I started feeling like I was getting the flu when I was sitting on our couch nursing one night. I ended up going to bed because I just felt terrible. Earlier, I had been out with some friends playing Bunco and when I got home, I fed the baby since it had been about 2-3 hours since he last ate. That’s when I noticed I started feeling crummy. I decided to go to bed, and during the night I got the chills. Then I would get the sweats. Something was definitely going on here, and it was more than just a plugged duct.

After a raging headache that 3 Advil didn’t cure, and a nap that didn’t take it away, I finally put a call in to my OB. While waiting to go to the doctor, I took the initiative to lean over the sink with a warm compress on my breast and massage out the lump, which was getting bigger, and now there was also a huge pink area on the breast, which is another sign of mastitis. Wherever you see the pink area on the breast, that is typically where the lump is as well as the infection/plugged duct.

Mastitis or Plugged Duct?

What exactly is mastitis and how can I tell if its mastitis or just a plugged duct? Just as I said above, mastitis is a breast infection. Much more than just a plugged duct, but that is how it begins: with a plugged duct. Mastitis will give you pain and swelling. You will have warmth and redness on your skin in the area of the infection. You may also experience flu-like symptoms like fever and chills.

Recovery Time

Even though you are in pain and may need to be on medication, you do not need to stop breastfeeding! My OB gave me the advice that maybe I should pump on the infected side to give my nipple a break from baby, but the truth is, baby will suck much more efficiently than any breast pump, and while it may not feel the best (I remember gripping my pillow when he would latch on to nurse), it will feel much better once the medication kicks in and the lump begins to subside.

After about 2 days on the meds, I felt like a new woman. It no longer pained me to have my son latch on. I continued leaning over my sink with a warm compress on my breast and massaging the lump. It did take a few days for the lump to completely disappear, but once it was gone, hallelujah!

My advice when experiencing a lump in breast while breastfeeding:

  • Massage it each time you nurse and point baby’s chin towards the lump. This will help to unclog the lump.
  • Nurse baby often on the side of the plugged duct, massaging each time you do.
  • If needed, take some ibuprofen and get a lot of rest.
  • Apply warm compresses while leaning over the sink and massaging it all out.

If you still have pain and its associated with redness and fever, call your OB immediately as you may need to get on an antibiotic. And please, do NOT stop nursing the baby! The infection will not harm baby. After a few days of increased nursing combined with massaging and medication if needed you will be feeling back to your own self.

And as much as you can, it’s very important to get rest. I know how hard it is having a little one. I have 5 children so it honestly wasn’t too convenient, but when baby napped, I tried to at least put my feet up.

Because I know how miserable it is, I really hope that you don’t ever have to deal with mastitis! But, in the end, everything worked out fine and my son and I are still nursing happily!

Have you ever dealt with mastitis or a plugged duct? What strategies did you use to get over it?

Rhiana is a 36 year old mother of 5, who resides in IL with her husband of nearly 15 years. She is a self proclaimed "crunchy" mom who not only breastfeeds, but co-sleeps, cloth diapers, selectively vaccinates and baby wears. In her free time, Rhiana enjoys cooking, baking and is addicted to Pinterest! Follow her other bloggin at


  1. Whenever I get a plugged ducts I put my son on the bed and nurse him while I lean over him. It works every time.

  2. If I have a lump removed from my breast can I still breast feed when I have my baby


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