What You Need to Know About Clogged Milk Ducts

December 22, 2016

What You Need to Know About Clogged Milk Ducts

As a breastfeeding mom, you’ve probably heard of the term “clogged milk ducts” a few times! Because clogged ducts can lead to mastitis, it’s important to know what symptoms you should be aware of and how to treat a blocked duct.

clogged milk ducts


A clogged duct is usually an area of your breast where the milk flow is obstructed. The obstruction can be caused by many things, including, but not limited to:

  • A bad latch: if your baby is not latching correctly, they may not be expressing enough milk from the breast.
  • Your pump: A low powered pump may not express milk adequately. Ensure your pump is strong and able to empty your breast.
  • An ill-fitting nursing bra: Wearing the wrong bra can put pressure on your breasts. This pressure can block your milk ducts.
  • Illness or a cold: Being sick can lead you to not wanting or being able to feed your baby as much as you want. With a decrease in feeding/pumping, your breast may not be emptied properly thus leading to clogged ducts.


If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from a blocked duct:

  • Soreness and redness
  • Tenderness
  • Engorgement in the area of the duct
  • A hard lump where the plug is located

It is not necessary that you will show all of these symptoms. However, if you are suffering from even one of these symptoms, begin treating your clogged duct right away.


While it might be painful, the key to unblocking the plug is to nurse from the affected side! Your wee one has a strong suck at the beginning of their nursing session, which may help dislodge the block. If your baby hasn’t nursed enough to empty the breast, use your pump.

Other ways to unblock the duct:

  • Massage the affected area. With the help of a hot shower or warm compresses, massage your breast from the outside towards the nipple to help loosen the plug.
  • Switch your nursing position. Cradle hold, football hold, or laying down -- try a new position while feeding your little one. Another trick: Nurse your babe by directing their chin towards the affected area. The strong suck may help unblock the duct.
  • Rest: To the extent you can, give yourself some rest. While it may be difficult to get some extra sleep or down time, ensure that you are taking care of yourself so that you don’t get sick! If you’re able to, ask for help from family or friends!


If after 24 hours of frequently nursing from the affected side doesn’t dislodge the plug and/or you develop a fever at all, call your doctor! A fever can be an indication that you have an infection in your breast (mastitis) and that you will need medication.

Here’s to a healthy & happy breastfeeding journey – with no clogged ducts!  

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The content found on the BettyRuth site is not meant to replace professional medical advice.

By Myra Aslam @ Bliss Creative 

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