Causes of Plugged Ducts
- Baby sleeping for longer periods of time
- Baby not sucking well
- Not “emptying” the breast
- Skipped feeding
- Breast too full
- Oversupply of milk
- Weaning too quickly
- Outside distractions that prevent or delay breastfeeding
- Using an ineffective breast pump
Pressure outside the breast may also cause a plugged duct. A few examples:
- Tight fitting bras
- Bunched clothing pushing on breast
- Car seats or baby carrier straps
- Mother’s fingers if pushing on breast in one spot for prolonged time
- Sleeping on stomach
Treatment for a Plugged Duct
Breastfeed more frequently, starting with the breast with the lump. It may help to have your baby’s nose or chin pointing to the blockage.
- Change position of baby during feedings to ensure drainage of all the milk ducts.
- Use warm, wet washcloths on the area for a few minutes.
- Massage breast during the feeding or in the shower. Try pressing behind the lump and massage toward the nipple. You can also soak the breast in a bowl of warm water.
- After breastfeeding, express some milk by hand or pump to help milk drainage.
- Take care of yourself; get rest, eat and drink fluids.
You should call a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) or health professional trained in lactation support if you are not improving within 24 hours.
Plugged ducts can lead to mastitis. If you are having flu-like symptoms (achy, fever, chills) and a red, hot area over the lump or red streaking, call your doctor to get antibiotics.
For additional information on this Health Topic, call the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at 513-636-2326.