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Plugged Milk Ducts When You're Breastfeeding


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Milk ducts are the channels in your breast that milk flows through to get to the nipple. If a duct gets plugged, you may have a sore breast. You may also notice redness and a lump or firm area.  

The best thing to do is keep breastfeeding.

Ducts can become plugged when milk builds up but doesn’t flow. Pressure builds behind the duct and can cause soreness in the surrounding area. Ducts can also become infected.  However, with continued and frequent nursing, plugged ducts usually clear up in day or two.

Did You Know? A missed feeding or pressure from your bra or seat belt can cause a plugged duct.

To relieve plugged ducts:

  • Breastfeed every two to three hours. Sucking will help relieve the plugged duct.
  • Before feeding, take a shower or place warm, wet washcloths on your breasts.
  • Massage your breasts before the feeding. During the feeding, firmly massage the breast from behind the lumpy area atowards the nipple to help the milk come out of the breast. 
  • Drain one breast well before switching sides. 
  • Change your baby’s nursing position so that his bottom jaw is over the sore area to encourage proper drainage.
  • Express the milk from your breasts by hand or with a pump if they are still lumpy after feeding. 
  • Get as much rest as possible and drink whenever you're thirsty.
  • Make sure your clothing and bra are loose.

Resources & Links:
Mastitis While Breast-Feeding

VIDEO: Admission to Postpartum - Keeping Your Baby Skin-to-Skin
VIDEO: Baby's Feeding Cues and Behaviours
VIDEO: Breastfeeding Positions
VIDEO: Hand Expressing Milk
VIDEO: Latching Your Baby

Last Updated: August 4, 2013