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Abscess Sufferers

(163 Posts)
mariasmummy Wed 09-Dec-09 16:06:14


If anyone has experience with an abscess please post me your story. I am 2 weeks post op with a reasonably large wound and I think i am looking at 1-2 months of healing.I cannot breastfeed from the infected breast as hole is so close to nipple and a lot of leaking (either milk or pus or bodily fluids) doctors say don't feed from it, nurses and counselors say do and general asdvice is get the milk out. Most sane people would stop breastfeeding after this but I'm keen to see it through and am feeding baby fine from other breast with occasional top ups. Baby is fine but I wish I had taken care of myself and got to doctors earlier.

All the best,

mariasmummy Mon 14-Dec-09 19:28:48

hisorry so tired and baby still up most of night. I have sorbsan? I think- for the packing and adhesive absorbing dressings. THey work just about and I prop up with tisues when leaking bad. I thought was drying up but today nurse went in and really prodded around to clean it and it started bleeding!

It is so depressing now. I keep crying and now more painful I wander if thats the tissue forming again. I so hope by christmas will be drier and less dressings but who knows?!

Regarding the bf, i know i seem strong but i find whipping out a boob to feed much easier than all the sterilising stuff and so on. Even if she feeds for 10 mins or so, its not like am out and about. However am going to ask hospital again on weds, if i stop bf will it heal quicker? If answer is a resounding YES then will stop. Its too much. I can go day by day but if i have to look months ahead then I'll stop.

What would be good is if MN can get something on the bf link regarding abscess. There is nothing! Most things go so far as mastitis only, so strange not to mention it if i had known i would have expressed like no tomorow and hit the doctors much sooner. EVeryone needs to know what could happen. Or are we just that unlucky?

I think you have been amazing what youve' been through. How is your baby? How is the rest of your life in relation to the past few months?

ilikemrclooney Mon 14-Dec-09 20:46:43

There are some very brave and strong women on this thread, I am incredibly impressed. I think that it is really important to raise awareness, the lack of information and GPs failing to be pro active are just part of a bigger issue of lack of support for breastfeeding in general. Although its vital, supporting a mother to breast feed is not just about helping her to get feeding established whilst in hospital and then sending her on her way. I know its a bit 'perfect world' but i really do wish that there was a commitment to support women better after they have had a baby and not just for the first couple of hours!

nicnac73 Mon 14-Dec-09 20:56:39


I think they said to me that bleeding is a good sign. It means you are healing.

The MN lady who replied to me said they were going to discuss it and do some research and get some info on the site so hopefully there will be something to inform sufferers of Mastitis. I wonder what the figures are for how many Mastitis sufferers develop abscesses? I think it is not that uncommon. When I 1st had Mastitis my Russian SIL told me how her mother had to have her mastitis 'cut out'. I thought at the time, how barbaric but that must just have been the Soviet Union in the 70s, couldn't happen to me. Since then I have found out about 3 other people who have had one and I'm not Mrs Super popular so I think it is more common that you think but not something that tends to crop up in conversation.

I think mine was caused by a combination of bad latch; too long between some feeds and bad luck. I was also actually holding my boob to make it more pointy to go in his mouth and thus blocking the ducts. (I think this is something that generally afflicts the big boobed I'm a 36F) We gave my DS a bottle of formula at night from 3 weeks because I was exhausted from feeding non-stop all day and obviously so was he because he then slept through the night and has done ever since (thank goodness for small mercies). HV et al all saw my rubbish latch and knew about his amazing sleeping but nobody said that I should probably still express because milk was static for 7-8 hours after intense feeding during day. I also had a few days early on where I didn't feed from left boob because of total cracked nipples so just expressed and used right. When I went back to feeding from both sides the right was obviously producing more and was actually loads bigger but still DS slept like a baby (who invented that phrase!!!) and even more milk stayed static. I got the abscess on the right breast exactly where I was holding it with my thumb. If only I had known more about how essential it is to pump or feed in the night. By the time I saw BF counsellor it was really progressed and baby was skinny mini.

This week I am really not happy as after operation last Weds doc told me I had to keep same dressing over wound until next Friday. 10 days, and can't get it wet so have tried to shower sparingly but not v.happy as like to be clean and hair washing is tricky adn I ahve to go to work. Also, it smells. I think I preferred daily packing. The non-removal is all about minimising the scarring. Its also itching like hell which I think means that its healing but still would really love a bath (haven't been able to soak since August).

Am back at work p/t since beg Nov due to no money and pressure. My boss is ace v.understanding and female. her boss is Chief Exec male and from a different culture and he was fine with me before mat leave but now being weird. Also, found out have been passed over for bonus despite +10% figures in a recession! Hmmm.

nicnac73 Mon 14-Dec-09 21:14:59

I agree totally ilikemrclooney. It is a bigger issue. At my antenatal classes it was 80% about why you should bf and 20% about how. It was also August and everyone was on hols incl my HV and MW so saw loads of different people but I didn't learn about the importance of Bf or expressing at night until its was too late.

nicnac73 Mon 14-Dec-09 21:35:44

sorry mariasmummy I missed that you asked how is my baby. He is the most beautiful baby in the world (of course) Really smiley. Smiles and laughs at everyone. Very healthy. I have been blessed in many ways. My DHs friend has son who was damaged at birth because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he says that you are only dealt the hand in life that you can deal with. Now I'm (almost) through it I really want to help other people avoid getting into the same situation.

ilikemrclooney Mon 14-Dec-09 21:35:52

My abscess was exactly where i put my thumb when i was supporting my boob (big boobs here too).Think i was also wearing a bra that was too tight. One thing that i didn't really get was that boobs are actually quite delicate which is easy to forget when you have a baby chewing at them 12 hours out of 24. It would e helpfull to be told this at some point.

mariasmummy Tue 15-Dec-09 11:54:15

yes and if baby has an infection or if your nipples are cracked more chance of an infected boob- none of this mentioned when pregnant.

my boobs not huge but big and i had a ton of milk come in boobs were so engorged all of a sudden, painful and had to get new bras.,

anyway, ninac you are right, count our blessings. babies doing well even if we aren't

nicnac73 Thu 17-Dec-09 09:16:39

How did it go at the hospital mariasmummy?

mariasmummy Thu 17-Dec-09 11:07:42

hi ninac, they are monitoring it and changed dressing. i specifically asked if i stop bf will it heal quicker and was told no. i have to keep expressing to stop engorgement but currently so much leaking from wound that breast doesnt feel engorged. just got to be patient with the healing. i had been on the correct ab before so that was pleasing.

if its not healed by end of jan will stop bf had enough mentally nearly am just at home mostly not going out much. got to be patient.

the surgeon who looked at it changed dressing and put loads of heavy duty tape on i looked scary at reast clinic!

how are you?

nicnac73 Thu 17-Dec-09 19:55:45

Yes, its one thing healing the physical wound but the whole thing is quite traumatic and emotionally draining as well isn't it? I didn't go out for quite a while afterwards because was worried about leaking. It does get better though quite quickly and then the dressings get smaller and less and less and you almost feel normal. The Doctors tend not to be so good at doing the dressings as the nurses. Did the surgeon go for a complete overkill so you could see it through your clothes? I hated that.

Tomorrow I am going to have my dressing removed. Finally. At least I haven't been at work today because I think it stinks. Other people say they can't smell anything but may be because its under my nose. Hope its all healed inside. Don't know if they will give me another ultrasound to check but I will ask.

mariasmummy Fri 18-Dec-09 09:53:06

hi ninac good luck today fantasic news! hope all done. will you get ultrasound? i would like one.

yes i think nurses better at dressing but obviously great to have surgeons look at it.

i'm trying homeopathic pills now in place of ab for a week or so.

was feeling fine until last night my gp rang and apparently a week ago when i had dressing changed at surgery there was still evidence of infection. He rang a week later! Anyway, i think that was the pus still leaking.... however since then the surgeon looked and stlil not prescribed me AB even thougb i did ask. So I have to believe its ok. For now.

yes i hate the smell its hideous, how many bras are you getting through? ugh. unbelievable stuff.

nicnac73 Fri 18-Dec-09 18:05:28

They have taken the stinky dressing off. Hooray. They took the stitches out too - ouch. I can't say that it looks pretty but surgeon said that it should be all clear now and if in 3 months time I'm not happy with the appearance then he will do something to improve the scar. Right now I don't care at all what it looks like so long as its sealed over, may be I'll feel differently in the future but I'm just happy there is no more gunk coming out. They told me to have a salt bath so I'm going for a long awaited soak in a minute. He said no need for ultrasound because when he stitched it up he could see it was all OK.

They were quite reluctant to give me ABs as well. Even when I thought it was quite stinky the nurses said it was normal (I guess they are used to sniffing quite stinky things) and its just the normal smell of body fluids, yuk. They did give me some more ABs at one point because it looked a bit red and inflammed around the wound. I don't think mine took so long because it re-infected but it just didn't heal right and kept filling up with fluid/exudate.

If you are worried then maybe insist that they swab it again? I think it should only take 48 hours for them to grow a culture in the lab. I always had to chase my surgery for the results. What are the homeopathic pills? Are they for healing? They told me to eat lots of meat and protein and to sleep as much as possible (ha ha)

mariasmummy Sun 20-Dec-09 22:34:06

Congrats! I had a day out yesterday almost felt like a normal person.... homeopathic pills have been recommended by a relative I think they could be helping with the healing. I am eating plenty of meat, trying to rest as much as possible.

Nurse thinks wound looks ok, hospital again weds and will ask about ultrasound and swab.

much less leaking now! So just some blood when its cleaned. Got to be a good sign.

Really hope you hae celebrated with some champagne!

nicnac73 Wed 23-Dec-09 16:18:30

How's it going mariasmummy? Great that you have been able to get out now the leaking is decreasing. Do you think you are going to need the nurse on Christmas day or can you skip days now?

nicnac73 Wed 23-Dec-09 16:25:57

I just realised something else that I was doing wrong by reading other threads. I was advised to only feed from one breast at a time at my antenatal class and this meant my milk was static for longer as I was only moving the milk in each breast every other feed. Wish I had known about MN when all this was going on...

mariasmummy Thu 24-Dec-09 18:50:32

hi ninac, merry christmas!

Nurse is coming tomorow christmas day. But now it takes about 2 minutes so will deal with it. In fact I like it when theycome ifeel reassured that its clean...

hospital doctor took one look and said its fine and walked out! Literally in about 10nseconds. I asked again about AB- he said no infection. Iforgot to ask about ultraousn annoying. I am going back in 2 weeks for another chekup so christmas week no hospital which is nice.

I know what you mean about feeding from one breast and other etc but honestly think we have been veryunlcuky. So many people feed only from one breast with no blockage- or no abscesses.In fact the affected breast still has milk in it, i amexpressing but i think it is producing less milk. Am going to trybto get baby back on in 1-2 weeks when its healed... but am scared. Firstly i think its unlikely she'll take to it so late on so will make a decison then about what to do.

meanwhil lookin fine.

juststarting Sun 27-Dec-09 19:14:41

Hi - just been reading this thread and wanted to add my own experience - I had a large breast abscess drained under general anaesthetic 3.5 weeks ago - I confess I delayed going to the doctor initially as this ominous lump emerged, as I tend to get pretty unwell on antibiotics. The health visitor had told me to look out for "flu like symptoms", so I kept telling myself I was ok and would be able to massage it away like I had done previous lumps and bumps. However, it got increasingly obvious it wasnt shifting, so I went to the GP and was prescribed antibiotics - went back a few days later and the upped the dose. A few days later saw me in A and E, where I spent 8 hours in pain and gradually getting more and more engorged on the bad side as they doctor told me he wasnt sure I should feed and the nurses told me they couldnt get me a breast pump from maternity until they checked with a doctor - anyway, this all led to an on the spot, not anaesthetic or ultrasound attempt at needle aspiration which left me an agony - went back for a scheduled ultrasound guided aspiration two days later where they got quite a lot of puss off, which I thought looked promising. However, before I could come back for a second aspiration a couple of days later the thing just got worse and worse. Having spent two weeks sat on the sofa weeping about what a rubbish mother I surely was and burning a nice fever (those flu like symtoms eventually did kick in!), my mum and partner eventually dragged me back into the hospital (no mean feat - I have a fear of hospitals and medications and stuff - had a fun five days of labour pains with no pain relief and delivered the baby on my kitchen floor to avoid hospital!) where they decided to do an urgent I&D. Anyway, the cavity left behind was 5cm deep and the chunk of flesh at surface level which is missing has the diameter of about a 50p piece. Nurses say its healing well and I am down to them coming out every other day to re-pack it. Havent had too much leaking problems as yet. But I still have pain in the nipple on that side and both sides have lumps in. My big dilema is whether to carry on breastfeeding or not - I want to - my son is now nearly 10 weeks, and it just seems too soon to stop after we battled SO hard to start - but I REALLY dont want to go through that level of pain and illness again. I just dont know how to play it from here really.

mariasmummy Mon 28-Dec-09 11:09:56

Just Starting wow! I can sympathise. The pain must have been- still is awful. They tried aspirating mine too with 3 different types of needles and only got a bit out. Thats when I had to go for surgery with a general.

Basically whether you continue to bf is totally up to you whether you have the stamina. I found it very hard getting up through the night with the baby and feeding but i didnb't do anything else for the past 3 weeks and that helped with the healing. If nurses already coming every other day thats a good thing and no leaking is very helpful. But it sounds like a deep wound!

I top up with a bottle at night which helps us all sleep through the night.

Get plenty of rest, don't feel guilty because its not your fault. Theree simply is not eough info about abscesses out there and some of us get them...

juststarting Mon 28-Dec-09 14:13:03

I thought about giving a bottle at night, and I am lucky in that my partner would happily get up to give it even when he's working, but basically, I dont want to get engorged over night, so I havent done it! Sadly, two weeks after the breast abscess I&D I then had to have a very large Bartholin's abscess marsupialised, which made breast feeding even harder as sitting was pretty sore! Plus, another night in hospital, another run of antibiotics - so I'm pretty run down. I'm REALLY hoping I am on the up again now, but just scared stiff of another abscess, and wondering whether the breastfeeding is worth the anxiety. I always thought breastfeeding would be more convenient, but I'm spending half my life on my boobs!
My son and I had a serious battle to get started breastfeeding - which is probably what set me up for the abscess in the first place - but now the battle is swinging in our favour and he is maintaining his centile with his weight gain and actually leaving gaps between some feeds, it seems even harder to think about giving it up. And, lets face it, I'm pretty sentimental about it too - pain in the arse it might be, but I also love being able to nurture him in that way and I feels so sad to consider not doing that with him anymore. Still, I'm always going to have the scars to show for it though! Mine is right at the top of the breast where anything more low cut than a polar neck will show it off!

nicnac73 Wed 30-Dec-09 17:52:53

omg juststartin what a terrible time you have been having. I really sympathise with you. Well done on continuing to bf. I take my hat off to you. What a wonderful mummy!

If you are really not happy with the battle wound in a few months time then I should think you would have as good a case as any for plastic surgery on the NHS to improve the appearance of it. My surgeon said he would do something about mine in a few months if I was bothered by it. I said I was just bloody glad it had healed over and didn't really care but he said I may feel differently in time... I am lucky mine is on the side. Also a fifty pence piece in size but only my nearest and dearest are ever going to see it.

I don't know what a Bartholin's abscess is but I am sure very painful. Gosh, you have been through the mill. Hope you have been able to have some treats for Christmas.

nicnac73 Thu 31-Dec-09 08:12:09

sorry juststartin I forgot you hate hospitals (and I don't blame you, if I was having a heart attack I don't think I would want to go back to the hospital where I had my first operation)

juststarting Fri 01-Jan-10 20:36:58

Yeah, you're right - not likely to voluntarily go in for plastic surgery! I'm trying to re-frame the prospect of scarring as more of a lasting reminder, an emblem of being a mummy! Like a tattoo. However - I dont know how bad its going to look yet! I may, as you say, feel very differently in time! Not that the people I've seen with it have mentioned scarring, let alone the option to have scarring improved. Oh well.
A Bartholin's abscess is an abscess in a gland in the labia - NOT pleasant!
Yes, still breast feeding, and still having problems with fussing at the breast. Plus I am overproducing milk now, but I am scared not to pump off the excess a couple of times a day lest it all happens again!

nicnac73 Sat 02-Jan-10 11:27:15

OMG juststartin. I hope you have better luck in 2010, you have certainly been having a rough time of it in 2009, (apart from your lovely baby).

MY DH refers to my scars as my badges of mummihood. Although, at the moment I think I look a bit like Scarmanga with 3 nipples as scab still hasn't fallen off. Trying to see the funny side of it.

Do you pump off a lot or just enough to improve your comfort? Have you had lots of support for continuing to breast feed? Is somebody helping/advising you with the fussing at the breast?

Happy New Year Abscess sufferers everywhere.

Are you there mariasmummy? How are you getting on?

mariasmummy Sat 02-Jan-10 12:45:26

hi! sorry got sidetracked over hols. happy new year! juststarting i totally empathise. i am giving a bottle at night and she is sleeping upto 7 hours now but the breast i use does become rock hard. this obviously scares the hell out of me and i have woken baby to feed....

affected side producing much less milk so no engorgement. am about to try to put her on it- 5 weeks post op. the nipple is quite flat so the latch is horrendous, i dont know whether to carry on, with both, one or neither but i mainly bf for convenience as sterilising bottles out and about worries me. mentally its terrifying!

ninac everrything o with your boob?

nicnac73 Sun 03-Jan-10 11:36:02

hi mariasmummy - its so difficult isn't it. You need sleep but then the boob gets full. Do you express? I can't remember if you said whether you express. Have you tried just expressing a little bit in the night to ease the discomfort and move the milk on a little bit? Just an idea. I am hardly an expert.

Like you said before I think we were just unlucky. Don't know if getting one abscess means that we are more or less likely to get another??? Still confused.

I wonder if there is anyone out there who has had a bad abscess in the past who could tell us what their scar looks like now? My stretch marks are fading fast (hooray) hoping that this scar will go the same way.

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