Plugged Duct

Common Challenges of Breastfeeding

It 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 June 6, 2016

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