When you're breastfeeding, your breasts go through lots of changes, and can look at feel much different than they did before pregnancy and nursing. It's not uncommon to get a clogged milk duct, which can be uncomfortable and painful! Many moms experience clogged ducts, but they can usually be resolved with warm compresses and massage. When 38-year-old Beth O'Brien from Bennington, Nebraska, found what she believed to be a clogged duct while nursing her 9-month-old daughter, so asked a lactation expert for tips on how to clear it. When those didn't work, she went to her doctor. And that's when she found out that her clogged duct was actually much more serious.
Beth had an ultrasound and then a biopsy, and was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer, which is an incredibly aggressive form of the disease. Beth's decision to seek medical treatment for what she thought was a clogged duct very likely saved her life.
What this 38-year-old mom who discovered a lump while breastfeeding wants you to know
When Beth O'Brien was feeding her 9-month-old daughter in 2017, she came across what she thought at the time was a clogged milk duct in her breast: https://gma.abc/2u9VCV1Posted by Good Morning America on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
With the support of her husband and three children, Beth underwent a double mastectomy, and completed chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments. Luckily, she is now cancer-free, and is sharing her story to help spread awareness and to encourage women to stay on top of their breast health.
Beth says she did breast self-exams every other month or so, but not extensively. She hopes her story is a wake-up call to women, especially women under 40 who might not be on a regular mammogram schedule, to check their own breasts regularly. Beth says she's lucky that she had baby Annabelle when she did and was breastfeeding her, otherwise she might not have found the lump in time.
Women who do self-checks should be aware of lumps they find that are fixed and not painful. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, don't immediately freak out over every lump or bump you find, though! Your breasts undergo a lot of changes, and clogged ducts are pretty common. A clogged duct will feel like a hard ball, and it will likely be painful to the touch. If you discover a lump during a self-exam, always make sure to bring it to your doctor's attention.