Milk ducts can become blocked when the lactating breasts become very full (engorged) and are not emptied regularly. A blocked milk duct feels like a tender lump on the breast.

You can treat a blocked duct with self-care measures. To help unblock milk ducts, you can:

    • Take a warm shower or apply a warm, wet compress several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. To make a warm compress, soak a hand towel in warm water. Wring out the excess water and place the towel on the affected breast. Cover the compress with a second, dry towel to trap the heat.
    • Massage over the area of the blocked duct, moving toward the nipple, before and during breastfeeding.
    • Breastfeed more frequently.
    • Use a variety of breastfeeding positions.
    • Feed from the affected breast first. This moves the milk through the breast more effectively, because the baby's sucking is most intense at the beginning of a feeding session.

A blocked duct can become infected (mastitis). If you have signs of a breast infection (mastitis), you may need to call your doctor right away.

Adaptation Date: 6/19/2018

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Date: 6/19/2018

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC