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Is breastfeeding incompatible with maintaining my own breast health?

(72 Posts)
abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 20:13:39

Hi -

I have posted about this before & it is a bit of a saga so I will try to summarise. About one and a half years ago I noticed a lump in my left breast. I was still breastfeeding DS (then 6/7 months old) & this created a huge amount of barriers in terms of scanning and treatment options. They initially refused to offer anything other than a mammogram but then turned me away, saying it would be inconclusive due to the milk in my breasts. As DS was dairy intolerant and a bottle refuser, then finally accepted that I had to feed him and offered me 1st an ultrasound (results inconclusive because of milk - lots of eye rolling and sighing from the radiographer) and finally a core gun biopsy. Thankfully I was told it was a harmless "thing" and that it would not change size/shape/location.

It has now changed size and shape and location.

I went to the GP to be re-referred to the clinic which she did and I have been given an urgent appointment for 2 weeks time. However, I am still feeding my DD. She is only 5.5 months but the GP was insistent that I stop prior to the appointment so that I can get a mammogram. I haven't stopped but still have time to do so if I have to confused.

I do not want to be reckless with my own health but also don't want to stop feeding DD prematurely if it is unnecessary and just a case of making it easy for the clinic to follow their basic protocol, rather than offering a more flexible approach. I would appreciate any advice or experience as I am so confused. Thanks in advance.

Lonelybunny Sun 11-Aug-13 18:01:10

Did u get the results ?

Lonelybunny Mon 29-Jul-13 21:48:12

Please keep us updated , glad you've got somewhere.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Mon 29-Jul-13 21:35:11

Well that's a good result, all things considered. I'm glad you got a supportive/sensible doctor who was prepared to think outside standard protocol - shame it has to depend on the knowledge and experience pot luck of which healthcare professional you see rather than being part of policy. Good for you for standing up for yourself. Will keep fingers crossed for a nice clear biopsy.

abigboydidit Mon 29-Jul-13 21:25:52

Sorry for the delay. I saw the junior Doc last week and she was v supportive of breast feeding. She sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound but the Consultant Radiologist refused to do the mammogram and went straight to ultrasound. As previously, that showed nothing so I had to have a core gun biopsy again. The Radiologist was about to steam ahead when I asked about whether the anaesthetic was okay for breast feeding which seemed to irritate her slightly and she said yes and then after pitting it in said she wasn't sure angry and to ask the initial Doc (it was fine, thankfully). Results later this week shock

abigboydidit Thu 25-Jul-13 08:33:47

Appointment this afternoon! Will update once kids in bed. Thanks.

Lonelybunny Wed 24-Jul-13 15:16:33

Bump, op?

BadSkiingMum Wed 24-Jul-13 09:49:55

Any update op?

Lonelybunny Wed 24-Jul-13 07:15:43

Ooh and I was told no point I could have a mammogram whilst breastfeeding as the milk would not make the picture clear enough hence the ultra sound scan , I'm
Still baffled why they won't do this for you ?

Lonelybunny Tue 23-Jul-13 22:41:12

Urm y can't you have an ultrasound scan on your breast ? I'm amazed this hasn't been offered ? I wouldn't give up breastfeeding yet and ask to have an ultrasound scan , if the scan is inconclusive then ask for a biopsy ? Disgusting as a mammogram is for older ladies with less dense breast tissue

abigboydidit Fri 19-Jul-13 19:15:22

Thanks. She was my first port of call but unfortunately was only able to advise me on how best to move to formula so I would avoid mastitis. She was very nice though!

Honsandrevels Fri 19-Jul-13 19:15:12

Have you contacted the bfn? They were hugely supportive to my questions about medication and bf. I was due to have a radio active scan thing (it is specifically for my condition but the name escapes me) and they were very helpful and gave me the go ahead. Then dd self weaned before the scan!

SoYo Fri 19-Jul-13 19:03:20

Try ringing the maternity unit to get the number of the infant feeding coordinator. Pretty much all units have them now as its financially beneficial for them to be 'breast feeding friendly'. They're usually excellent for things like this. Ours did battle with pharmacy for me who refused to provide a drug that I'd prescribed a woman because their guidelines said it wasn't for use with breastfeeding despite years of experienced use across the world showing no harm.

abigboydidit Fri 19-Jul-13 13:44:32

Sort of. I have been allowed to still meet with the Doc (the exact words of the secretary!) so that's next week. Still trying to seek out an advocate from the health board to support me hmm

BadSkiingMum Thu 18-Jul-13 23:01:33

Any update?

Rummikub Mon 15-Jul-13 23:20:20

Hi, don't know if someone's already looked at la leche league site. Copy and post below:

Yes, breastfeeding mothers can have mammograms.

Mothers asking this question may have two concerns:

1. Will the radiation affect my milk and harm my baby?
2. Is it possible to read the mammogram of a lactating breast?

X-rays do not affect mother's milk, so you can safely resume breastfeeding immediately after the mammogram. In fact, according to the LLLI WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 134, "Mammograms, x-rays and ultrasound tests will not interfere with breastfeeding."

The second question has a longer answer. It is possible to read a mammogram of a lactating breast. Breasts that produce milk are called lactating breasts. Due to milk production, there is more dense tissue present in the lactating breast than in a non-lactating one. This normal density may make it harder to read the results. The amount of tissue in your breast depends on the frequency that your baby is breastfeeding. If breastfeeding occurs infrequently, there will be less milk and tissue so the mammogram would be easier to read. To help reduce the amount of milk prior to a mammogram, you could bring your baby and breastfeed immediately prior to the procedure. Finding a radiologist experienced in reading mammograms of lactating breasts would produce more reliable results.

Sorry if you've already seen this, hope it helps.

RedKites Mon 15-Jul-13 22:49:02

Could you speak to PALS at the hospital? Explain that they did a core gun biopsy before, and that they won't even meet with you to discuss why this isn't possible this time. I hope they would see that asking you to give up breastfeeding when you don't want to, without even having this discussion, is rather unreasonable.

BadSkiingMum Mon 15-Jul-13 22:39:55

Could one approach be to empty the breasts just before the mammogram (feed and pump like hell), then to give your baby expressed milk for a period of time?

Can anyone give you an estimate of how long the radiation will remain in the breast tissue? You could then 'pump and dump' for that period of time.

BadSkiingMum Mon 15-Jul-13 22:35:57

I think that you urgently need to contact the 'drugs in breastmilk' helpline.
I realise that it is not a medication issue, but the helpline is probably an excellent place to start. It is run by a pharmacist who is also a breastfeeding expert.

The helpline can be found via the Breastfeeding Network site. The BFN also do some factsheets on different medical treatments which are really helpful.

abigboydidit Mon 15-Jul-13 22:12:24

Sorry. I didn't mean that to sound so grumpy. Am just feeling a bit picked on and sorry for myself!

abigboydidit Mon 15-Jul-13 22:05:10

I have been given no reasons why they can't/won't do another core gun biopsy. It was 100% compatible with breast feeding but it seems mammogram is the first line. I will be honest and confess that I am now just stunned with the attitudes of the health care professionals I am encountering and probably just need to write a complaint.

tiktok Mon 15-Jul-13 21:45:10

poppadum, " alarmist and insensitive"....indeed, you said it sad

OP does not want to stop bf.

She does not want to be reckless with her health.

She does not need to stop, or to be reckless.

She does need a better assessment from people who understand bf, and who understand the physiology of it. I would not be confident in an HCP who thought that 'stopping bf' was an easy thing to do and that milk would just stop. To me, it is a give away - shows they do not understand normal lactation and I would wonder how competent they were to assess breast health, in that case.

OP, hope you find a good solution.

midori1999 Mon 15-Jul-13 21:35:10

Sadly, IME, they still won't do anything if you dry up one side.

Presumably they are reluctant to do a biopsy due to the increased risks when breastfeeding? I do know there are some NHS consultant breast surgeons who are supportive of breastfeeding and prepared to biopsy or even operate on lactating women.

Does your hospital have a knowledgable breastfeeding advisor who may be aware of a more breastfeeding friendly surgeon or who could advocate for you?

Could you maybe try contacting an IBCLC who has experience of lactating women and breast surgery?

I can understand your reluctance to stop BF, particularly when the lump may still be benign.

abigboydidit Mon 15-Jul-13 21:21:35

Thanks everyone. I guess I just have a stubborn streak and am getting irritated by the lack of support or options for women who are breast feeding. Also, now I understand that milk stays in my breasts far longer than I had appreciated, I feel even more strongly that stopping feeding at this investigative stage is pointless.

But I also know I can't play chicken with my own health. I will call the Dr's secretary tomorrow but if I have no luck I will start stopping from that side. hmm

SoYo Mon 15-Jul-13 17:25:15

Leave a message for the consultant with their secretary. They cannot refuse to see you or treat you.

PoppadomPreach Mon 15-Jul-13 16:58:35

Stop feeding. Get a proper scan.

There is a perfecty acceptable alternative to breast milk. There is not a perfectly acceptable alternative to a dead mother (yes I know alarmist and insensitive, but personally I wouldn't mess with what could potentially be cancer)

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