How to Relieve a Plugged Duct

Plugged ducts can be an unfortunate side effect of breastfeeding.  They occur when one of the milk ducts in the breast becomes clogged. Plugged ducts can be caused by any number of things from bras that are too tight to not emptying the breast enough during feedings. 
Photo Credit: Anton Nossik via Wikimedia Commons
Plugged ducts result in some major discomfort.  Mothers may notice pain, particularly before or during nursing sessions, a lump, swelling, redness, tenderness, and heat. It's important to relieve plugged ducts as soon as they occur, not only to reduce the pain, but also because they could develop into mastitis. Mastitis is a very uncomfortable inflammation of the breast that comes with flu-like symptoms. 

Ways to Relieve a Plugged Duct:

Empty the Breast - The most effective way to empty the breast is by letting the baby nurse, nurse, nurse.  Offer the breast first at every feeding and let baby drain the breast. After baby has nursed, you may want to use a breast pump to make sure the breast is completely drained. Nursing or pumping may be painful, but it is essential to relieve the plugged duct.

Loosen Up - Bras, restrictive clothing and pressure can cause or worsen plugged ducts. Try to avoid bras with an underwire or bras that are too restrictive. Go braless around the house if you can and try not to put pressure on the breast by laying on your stomach.

Apply Heat - Using a warm compress or even taking a hot bath or shower can help to loosen the duct up a bit. The heat can also offer a bit of relief from the pain you might be experiencing.

Massage - Massaging the affected area will help to get the clog broken up and moving. Massage the plugged duct towards the nipple. Massaging the breast can be particularly effective while nursing or applying heat. 

When the plugged duct relieves you may notice stringy or chunky milk particles come out of the breast. This is totally normal and is just built up milk fats that were in the plugged duct. If you suspect you may have mastitis, contact your doctor as you may need antibiotics or some other form of treatment. If you suspect a plugged duct, make sure you rest and get plenty of fluids!

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About Coffee and Wine Mom

Maddi Casey is a muscle car driving, hard working mama who is obsessed with football and good beer. She has two beautiful baby girls and loving husband. Writing is a passion, hobby and sometimes career of hers at She is also passionate about animals, nature and entrepreneurship.
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