Blocked milk ducts can be pretty painful and annoying. The good thing is
that there are many ways to clear this that you can do at home!
We will go over this common condition in breastfeeding moms.
What is a blocked milk duct?
Blocked milk ducts are also called clogged milk
ducts or plugged milk ducts.
There are many tiny ducts leading from breast tissue to the nipple. When
flow stops in one of these ducts, a hard, tender lump forms. This is a
blocked milk duct.
All of the above!
If you have a blocked milk duct you may experience:
A tender, painful lump
A white dot or bleb at the end of the nipple, called a milk
Pain in a specific area in the breast
Improvement of pain after nursing
Pain during letdown
Heat and swelling in the breasts
Milk flow may be slower.
If you have fever and some redness, you should contact your
healthcare provider to make sure it is not mastitis (breast
If you are experiencing milk oversupply you are more likely to get blocked
duct due to incomplete emptying of the breast.
Blocked ducts are more likely to occur if a breastfeeding woman does not
completely drain the breast. This allows milk to accumulate and block the
However, anyone who is breastfeeding can experience blocked milk duct.
Some things that may increase your chance
Poor or weak latch
Not fully draining breast each time your nurse
Only using one breast to nurse
Skipping or shortening breastfeeding
Change in feeding pattern or irregular feeding schedule
Pressure on breast due to tight bra or underwire or diaper bag
Lack of rest
Weaning too quick
Clogged duct should resolve in 1-2 days. If it
lasts longer or you have high fever
or redness you should see your healthcare provider.
Go ahead and start working on the issue if you notice a blocked duct to
prevent progression to mastitis (breast infection).
True! Massage is a very effective tool to help relieve
blocked milk ducts. Best to use it while you are feeding or
Use a warm cloth or heating pad prior to starting
nursing (for about 20 minutes) to help soften the clogged area.
Then while nursing, start at the outside of the breast and apply
pressure with your fingers as you move toward the plug.
Helpful tips to clear a blocked milk duct:
Breastfeed often (every 1-3 hours or on
demand): Start with the side with blocked milk ducts if it is not too
painful. Baby’s suck is more vigorous at the start.
Drain the breast: If you can’t due
to poor latch or tired baby, use a pump to express milk after you finish
Change it up: Using a different
nursing position may help so your baby’s suction may reach the clogged duct
Soak it: Soak your breast in warm
water for 10-20 minutes. Some like to add a little epsom salt. Team this up
with massaging the clot after the soak for maximum benefit!
All of the above! The main strategy for
preventing clogged ducts is fully
draining each breast during breastfeeding.
It can take up to 15- 30 minute to empty the breast. Look for
signs that your baby has drained the breast. When you squeeze
your breast little or no milk should be expressed.
True! Lecithin is a supplement that is safe in
breastfeeding and has been used to both help and prevent clogged milk
ducts. Some use a dose of 1200mg four times a day. Speak to your healthcare
provider or lactation specialist about this.
What else can you do to prevent blocked milk ducts?
Wear loose fitting clothes and wire free but supportive bra.
Avoid positions that put a lot of pressure on your breast.
Breastfeed on demand or on a regular schedule.
If you have milk oversupply work on techniques to reduce this
Work with your baby to get a proper latch.
So try some of these tips to get relief from a blocked milk duct
or to prevent them!
Remember if the lump is still there after a few days, grows, looks
red or you have fever and chills, you should contact
your healthcare provider. You may have mastitis and need
Getting support from a lactation counselor is a great to
help get the confidence and skill you need to have successful
You can also reach out to one of our MaternalWell lactation counselors for a virtual consultation or use or text support for any general questions!