Plugged Duct

Blocked Duct Breastfeeding

What is a blocked duct?

A plugged duct, is formed when some of the milk inside a duct dries up and stops the rest of the milk from flowing, it is mostly due to a mother not draining the breast properly. This usually happens in the early days of breastfeeding, when a mother is still engorged.

Blocked Milk Duct Symptoms

  • A plugged duct happens progressively, and is usually only found in one breast.
  • It is sometimes felt as a hard lump, that may be hot and/or tender.
  • A blocked milk duct mostly feels worse before a feeding, while the breast is still full, and feels less sore after a breastfeeding session.
  • Nursing on the side where the lump is, could be painful, especially during a let down.
  • It is typically not associated with a fever. If you have a temperature of more than 38,5°C, you should contact your doctor. It could indicate a mastitis infection.
  • Milk supply may decrease temporarily.
  • You may see some thick, grainy milk.
  • You may feel some bruising in the area, for about a week after the lump has disappeared.

How to Get Rid of Blocked Milk Ducts

  • Nursing and pumping frequently to drain the breast (Pump at least every two hours). Breastfeeding on demand is best. 
  • If the breast is too painful to breastfeed, you should use an electric breast pump.
  • A warm, moist compress will increase the flow of milk, this can be done before you nurse or pump. You can also soak your breasts in warm water with some Epsom salts added. (One handful of Epsoms with every 2L of water) Remember to rinse your breasts afterwards, to remove the saltiness.
  • Take a warm shower and hand express your milk, while massaging the swollen area from the top of the breast, towards the nipple.
  • Do not wear tight bras. Tight bras restrict the flow if milk, resulting in blocked milk ducts.
  • Using breast massage for a plugged duct, will help get the milk loose before you nurse or pump.
  • Try nursing on the sore breast first, if it is too painful, you can express some milk, or wait for a letdown, before giving your baby the affected breast.
dangle feeding, breast baby, breastfeeding baby, pic of breastfeedingDangle Feeding
  • “Dangle feeding" as seen in the picture, will pull the blocked ducts open, with the help of gravity.
  • If your breast is not completely drained after a feeding, you should try pumping after feedings.
  • Trying different positions while breastfeeding, might help the milk flow easier.
  • If there is a little white spot or blister on your nipple, you can try puncturing it with a sterile needle, then allow your baby to drain it.
  • You can use a cold compress after feedings for pain relief.
  • Make sure you get enough rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and clean water.
  • Eat well (breastfeeding diet guidelines).
  • If the plugged duct does not clear within two days, you can try therapeutic ultrasound at your local physiotherapy office. (2 watts/cm2, continuous, for five minutes to the affected area, once daily for two days.)

Causes of Plugged Milk Ducts

Blocked Milk Duct Treatment

Medication needed for blocked ducts

  • For pain relief, a mother can use Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. The mother does not need to use an antibiotic if she has blocked ducts.
  • If you think you might have mastitis, (usually recognized with a high temperature and flu like symptoms), you should see your physician. 
  • Mothers should take a blocked breast duct seriously and start using the advice above. A plugged duct if not treated, can turn into mastitis, which can turn into a breast infection (infected milk ducts) and ultimately into an abscess.
  • Most of the time, if a mother just continues to breastfeed on demand, a blocked breast milk duct will disappear within two days.

Recurrent Plugged Milk Ducts

What about preventing recurrent plugged milk ducts?

The mother can take a daily supplement of Lecithin (1200mg), three times per day to prevent blocked ducts.

NB – Important fact
Do not stop breastfeeding because of a blocked breast duct, this will make it worse, and might even cause mastitis.

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with blocked ducts breastfeeding

- Mastitis symptoms.

- Breast massage.

- Breast engorgement.

- Herbs and breastfeeding.

Proven to reduce pumping time..

Leave a comment

Want to share your stories? Ask a question or just say hello...

What Other Moms Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Plugged nipple-help 
Im only 21 weeks pregnant n I'm finding my self having some nipple issues. On both my nipples I think I have clogged nipples but I'm not sure. The …

Recurrent Plugged Ducts-Finally Solved 
Love this post! So detailed! It helped me a few times. I struggled through multiple plugged ducts per week for almost 10 months. Finally, I discovered …

Mom of 4th 
My 4th baby just turned 7 weeks. He slept more than usual yesterday morning and skipped a feeding which resulted in my overproducing breast getting engorged. …

blocked ducts 
I have a 7 week old baby and consistently get blocked ducts. I have unblocked a few on right breast, now have problem on left and everything I do cant …

milk not out yet 
hi our baby was born yesterday and my wifes breast hasnt been able to produce milk. baby has been sucking on nipple almost everytime baby gets hungry. …

soaking breast using epsom salts 
I'm not sure how to go around doing this without actually killing my back trying to soak my breasts and furthermore not being able to completely submerging …

persistent clogged milk duct 
Please advise on how to treat a persistent clogged milk duct (few weeks). I have already tried warm compresses and nursing regularly, dangling breast …

Weaning breastfeeding 
Hi Im a new mum, Im 19 and my daughter is 7 months old. i have recently stopped breast feeding and its so sore. I have lumps and blocked ducts and they …

about 3yrs I've had this plugged duct i need help 
For about three years I've a plugged milk duct in my right armpit. the ministry of children and family development took my kids I've got four boys. …

Dark green colored! 
Hi! I stopped breastfeeding a year ago. Eventually, i found out that one of my nipple openings could express dark green colored milk...whilst the other …

suffered from plugged ducts Not rated yet
I suffered from that and little did I know what was happening,consulted GP, said I must breast feed more, use hot compressions! And I did it and it …

Mom in need of guidance  Not rated yet
I found a lump in my breast and had an ultrasound. The doctor said it is clogged milk ducts but I have not nursed in over 2 years. It really hurts …

Plug Milk Duct Not rated yet
Hi, I delivery baby 8 weeks ago. I never breastfeeding. I am bottle feeding. 2 weeks ago, I develop a plugged milk duct in my right breast. Now …

dangle breastfeeding Not rated yet
No electric pump can match up with baby's sucking skills.. Using the dangle position and letting baby nurse on affected breast always sorts the problem …

Thanks for this article Not rated yet
My baby is now newly 6 months. I had my first blocked duct recently, and had acupuncture done. 5 times, actually, within about a week's time frame …

Thank you/super helpful Not rated yet
This was super helpful. Many thanks xoxo

One breast bigger than the other Not rated yet
My boobs are really sore and I just noticed that one is bigger than the other, but it is really noticeable. My mom says it might be a breast duct, …

Click here to write your own.

privacy policy