Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Breast-Feeding Problems: Plugged Ducts
One or more of the milk ducts may become blocked. This is
usually caused by incomplete emptying of the breast. A
plugged duct can also be caused by stress, fatigue, or a
tight bra. In addition, it appears that some women are
simply more prone to plugged ducts than others.
Because a plugged duct can lead to a breast infection, it
needs to be unplugged as soon as possible.
If you feel a hard, tender lump in your breast:
- Nurse on the tender side first when the baby is
hungriest and sucks more strongly. This will ensure
complete emptying of that breast.
- Massage the breast with the lump, expressing extra milk
and trying to unplug the duct.
- Between nursing sessions apply moist heat to the breast.
(The best is to soak in a hot bath while massaging your
breast and expressing milk. A hot shower or a heating
pad is also helpful.)
- Be persistent! With a plugged duct you have to work
with massage, expression, nursing, and moist heat until
- Sleep on your side instead of your back to assist the
flow of milk down the ducts in your breasts.
- Since stress can be an important factor in plugged
ducts, make sure you get plenty of rest and relaxation.
- When the plugged duct unclogs, you may feel a burning or
WARNING: If a clogged duct is accompanied by redness, a
painful lump, and/or a fever and flu-like feeling,
you could have a breast infection. Call your
HINTS FOR PREVENTING PLUGGED DUCTS:
- Nurse frequently.
- Empty each breast at each nursing.
- Avoid tight or poorly fitting bras.
- Sleep on your side instead of back.
- Get plenty of rest.