Breast self-exams can help spot a breastfeeding issue as much as it can help spot breast cancer.Β 

Should you self-examine when breastfeeding?


  • Performing breast self-exams at home reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer
  • Breastfeeding reduces your lifetime risk of breast cancer BUT you can still get breast cancer even if you’re breastfeeding

Does a lump mean I have cancer?


  • Lumps in your breast aren’t always cancer especially when breastfeeding, when other more common issues may be the cause
  • BUT always see your doctor if you notice a breast lump!

What could a lump otherwise be?

  • Engorgement (breast full of milk) – relieved by regular feeds or pumping
  • Plugged milk duct – massage lump gently during feeding
  • Infection (mastitis) or abscess – see your doctor who may offer antibiotics
  • Benign cyst – may disappear itself

Is a lump all I have to look out for?


  • Breast cancer can also present with nipple changes (inversion, eczema-like rash), dimpling or puckering of skin
  • Breastfeeding can also cause these changes (due to hormones, latching technique) – see your doctor if worried

It’s always best to examine your breasts during and after a feed so you can spot anything new.

During a feed:

  • Use your free hand to gently examine your breast.
  • Any tender spots? Is one area warmer than the rest of your skin?

After a feed:

  • Grab a towel! (Milk may make it messy)
  • Have a look in the mirror for any changes in your breasts – place your hands behind your head and then on your waist
  • Get comfortable (lying or standing) and pop one hand behind your head
  • With the other hand, feel all around your breast in a circular motion, feel for any lumps in your armpit, feel for any changes on the nipple

See a doctor if you notice anything unusual!Β