I thought it was cancer- mom shares painful breastfeeding experience

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The lumps were growing and quite painful

play Gabriella

When Gabriella had her first son two

years ago, she had already made up her mind to breast feed naturally.

“We are told breastfeeding is best and your child receives the best nutrition through breastfeeding."

However, no one had prepared for the painful lumps that had started growing while she was lactating. She thought she had cancer.

"I thought a lump under my armpit was cancerous. You always hear lumps need to be checked out because of cancer."

Gabriella found out that she was experiencing mammary duct ectasia.

Also known as swollen milk ducts, this happens when milk ducts in the breast get clogged because the mother is not completely emptying her breast of milk on a regular basis.

Swollen milk ducts happens to a lot of women and also in other animals. If left untreated, a plugged milk duct can cause milk to back up and an infection to begin.

play Gabriella's lumps (Courtesy)


This is called the Mastitis infection which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed.

It can also happen to non lactating women with weakened immune systems, who have been through radio therapy for lumpectomies and women with diabetes.

For Gabriella, her solution was ice and a cold flannel.

"Sometimes with Oscar I would place a cold flannel or ice on my armpit to reduce the swelling. Sometimes I would also have a warm bath or shower and hold my arm up to the shower head to reduce the swelling."

However, with the second child, she started expressing milk. A decision she reveals didn’t do much to help her situation.

"I have had to express milk with Lucas because my boobs had too much milk in them and were very uncomfortable and would start to leak. The only trouble I have with expressing is that my body thinks Lucas is feeding loads so is producing more milk - which isn't really helping with the lumps going down."

Gabriella decided to open up about her situation because it is rarely spoken about.

"I would like mothers to realise that there are cons to breastfeeding and to make them aware of different ways to relieve the pain, and not to worry - there are other mums suffering the same thing. We are told breastfeeding is best, however it's never about what the mother goes through i.e. the side effects and cons."

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