Ducts carry the milk from deep in the breast to the nipple openings. Sometimes these ducts can become blocked. Milk builds up behind the blockage, a lump forms and your breast begins to feel sore. Your breast may become engorged in one area and might also look red.
Breast milk is produced in your breast and flows through milk ducts out the nipple. When one of those ducts becomes clogged for some reason, milk can back up and cause a tender lump.
How can I relieve a blocked duct?
- Start treatment as soon as you feel a lump or sore spot.
- Rest as much as possible.
- Keep the affected breast as empty as possible by feeding from that side as often as you can.
- Apply warmth to the affected breast area before a feed.
- Feed from the affected breast first, when baby is sucking vigorously.
- Check that your baby is attached well and can get the milk easily.
- Relax to help your let-down reflex work well.
- Gently but firmly massage the lump toward the nipple during (and after) feeds.
- Change feeding positions to help empty the breast (having baby lower than the blockage can help).
- Hand express if needed, before and after feeds.
- Cold packs after a feed may help relieve pain and inflammation.
- See your medical adviser if you cannot clear the lump in 12 hours, or sooner if you develop a fever or feel unwell, as you may have mastitis.
About video: A lactation expert from the University of Colorado Hospital offers helpful tips for women who get plugged ducts or are dealing with sore breasts during breastfeeding.