Common Challenges of BreastfeedingIt is common for many women to have a plugged duct at some point when breastfeeding. A plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast. It is not accompanied by a fever or other symptoms. It happens when a milk duct does not properly drain and becomes inflamed. Then, pressure builds up behind the plug, and surrounding tissue becomes inflamed. A plugged duct usually only occurs in one breast at a time.
What you can do:
- Breastfeed often on the affected side, as often as every two hours. This helps loosen the plug, and keeps the milk moving freely.
- Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Use your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
- Use a cold compress on the sore area.
- Get extra sleep or relax with your feet up to help speed healing. Often a plugged duct is the first sign that a mother is doing too much.
- Wear a well-fitting supportive bra that is not too tight, because this can constrict milk ducts. Consider trying a bra without underwire.
If your plugged duct doesn't loosen up, ask for help from a lactation consultant. Plugged ducts can lead to a breast infection.
Updated December 29, 2017