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.

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:03:21

Thanks everyone. I am 37. The last results letter said (I kid you not) that they had found a "non-malignant thing". thing?! I was told there would be no follow up & the consultant made it clear that monitoring would be out of the question while I was still breastfeeding.

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:04:30

Sorry - just to add am intrigued by feeding from one side! DD feeds from both sides every feed so would it be possible?

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:07:17

Please don't apologise Aidan! All v helpful grin

NachoAddict Sun 14-Jul-13 21:12:36

I was going to suggest just feeding from one side too but it seems from other posts that there are a few other options.

Good luck and stand up for yourself and your Dd.

Sunnysummer Sun 14-Jul-13 21:12:41

I had a lump and was told to continue feeding, but was able to have a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy (overseas, not NHS). The only preparation I had to do was to fully empty the breast before the appt, so I fed DS in the waiting room and then expressed right before hand just to be sure.

Who was the 'they' who said you'd have to stop? If it was the consultant then I agree with previous posters that 5.5 months is a great amount of time already and that your health is the most important, but if it was the GP or radiographer maybe you can call the clinic and get a confirmation from the doctor before you go?

sleepyhead Sun 14-Jul-13 21:14:48

It should be possible. The supply to the unaffected side would increase.

It would be a bit of a faff though, so it'd be good to know that the requirement for you to stop was definitely based on clincal need.

kernowmissvyghen Sun 14-Jul-13 21:27:58

Have you considered asking your GP to refer you to a different (better) hospital?

You have the right to go to any NHS hospital you choose for treatment, and from the other replies on here it's clear that other hospitals have a far more patient-centred approach than your current hospital.

In your position I'm not sure I'd be at all keen to go back to the people who dealt with you previously.

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:30:37

Am in Scotland so my options are far more limited - the medical staff at my unit also cover the neighbouring health board. Am actually an NHS employee so had expected better shock

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:33:05

Sorry I meant to say it was nurses, GP and junior doctors saying to stop last time. The radiographer didn't say to stop but just refused to see me whilst I was still feeding! This time it was the GP telling me to stop before my appt.

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:33:55

And apologies if my replies are a bit stilted - still on my phone!

SoYo Sun 14-Jul-13 21:35:16

Even if you stop now surely you'll still be producing milk in 2 weeks time and they may still say this will affect tests etc? I'd carry on BFing and discuss it with them at the appointment and push them for alternatives if they feel it will alter the investigations.

abigboydidit Sun 14-Jul-13 21:48:02

On my laptop now so thanks Bert2e for the links - they are really helpful. speak2me dumbelina MsMunch Sunnysummer thank you for sharing your experiences.

midori1999 Sun 14-Jul-13 23:13:08

OP I am also in Scotland and have needed investigations at my local breast clinic. (I'm in Edinburgh, although I appreciate you may not wish to say where you are) the investigations I needed weren't for a breast lump, but the staff at the breast clinic were absolutely appalling in both their understanding of breastfeeding and support of it. In fact, the consultant I saw was open mouthed when he asked how long I intended to breastfeed and I replied 'at least two years'.

abigboydidit Mon 15-Jul-13 11:57:40

Thanks midori1999. I am disappointed but not surprised to hear my experiences are the norm..

Bert2e Mon 15-Jul-13 15:12:50

You could always say you've stopped bf - or rather just not tell them you're still bf!!

abigboydidit Mon 15-Jul-13 15:32:45

Just off the phone to the clinic. They wont do a mammogram and wont see me until I have stopped BFing. Couldn't get past the nurses to speak to the Doc sad

cardamomginger Mon 15-Jul-13 16:22:20

If they find something with the scan, they will do a core biopsy anyway. And even if they don't find anything that looks suspicious on the scan, I would hope they would still do a core biopsy, given that you have an existing lump.

As part of your conversation about going straight to biopsy, I'd press them strongly to tell you exactly what it is that the mammogram would show that no other investigation will show. If it is just a question of having to tick all the boxes on the form, that's one thing (and they can sod off). If it's because it will give clinically important information that cannot be obtained any other way, then that's another. Could it be relevant to determine whether there is just one lump or more than one? Don't know....

cardamomginger Mon 15-Jul-13 16:23:42

Swines. Is your GP supportive? Could he/she try and speak to consultant?

Bert2e Mon 15-Jul-13 16:38:49

Do they say how long you have to have stopped bf for?
You could stop for the appointment and then start again that afternoon!

Rather shocking isn't it that medical staff at a breast clinic don't seem to have an understanding of what breasts are for !

Llareggub Mon 15-Jul-13 16:52:06

What do the NICE guidelines say?

Rummikub Mon 15-Jul-13 16:53:24

Try calling hospital switchboard and speak to consultant's secretary? Think it's appalling that they won't discuss this with you. And what juggling said. Disgraceful.

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)

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.

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

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