How To Get Rid Of A Clogged Milk Duct


clogged milk ducts

I struggled with multiple clogged ducts during the year I breastfed my daughter, and more recently now with my son. And they are NOT FUN! Luckily, I become pretty in tune to spotting the start of one and learned a few techniques to control it fast!

What is a clogged milk duct?

A plugged or clogged milk duct occurs when breastmilk remains in the breast after nursing or pumping, causing the tissue around the duct to become irritated and inflamed, ultimately causing a blockage of the duct. The blockage causes a small, hard lump in the breast tissues that is painful and red to the touch. Clogged ducts are not uncommon in a newly breastfeeding mom, especially one who is producing milk faster than is being expressed.

What Causes A Clogged Milk Duct?

Clogged ducts occur when milk remains in the breast. A few reason why this could happen include:

  • Baby is consuming less milk for one reason or another; maybe they are sick, have an improper latch, or are suddenly less interested in breastfeeding.
  • Your pump is not powerful enough or you’re not pumping long enough to fully empty your breast.
  • Abruptly weaning your baby, in which case your body has not just adapted.
  • A bra that is too tight or doesn’t fit well and is being compressed or damaged.
  • Stress, influencing hormones that allow your to release milk.
  • Some breast implants or surgeries that may interfere with milk drainage.

prevent clogged ducts

Can I Avoid Getting A Clogged Milk Duct?

The best thing you can do to avoid a clogged duct is to nurse or pump every 2-3 hours, fully emptying your breasts. If baby ‘s feeding has decreased, you may need to empty your breasts after a nursing session with a pump.

If you’re transitioning to sleeping through the night or weaning your baby, go very slowly, decreasing the amount expressed 1-2 ounces at a time until your body has readjusted.

Do not abruptly drop a pump or wean your baby.  For more information on how to wean your baby, see my past post.

How Do I get Rid Of A Clogged Milk Duct?

If you suspect a clogged duct, there are a few immediate actions you can take. The goal is to release the clogged duct as quickly as possible, obviously to relieve the pain, but also to prevent it from turning into mastitis – stagnant milk from the blockage the becomes infection. Mastitis is extremely painful, presenting with a large red rash and a fever, and most commonly treated with antibiotics.

  • Wear an appropriate fitting Bra

Wearing a bra or clothes are too tight can cause milk flow restricting leading to a plugged duct.  There are tons of great nursing bras out there. My favorite happens to be the *Bravada Nursing Brand!

  • Nurse and/or frequently Empty Breasts

When nursing, start with the infected side first until it’s fully emptied. Change baby’s position to help ensure all ducts are drained.

  • Massage

Massage the sore area in a motion towards armpit to help work out the duct.  A *Milk Duct Massager can help work out chronic clogged ducts.

  • Hot & Cold Pads

Use hot pads before nursing/pumping and use cold pads in-between sessions to ease pain.

  • Sunflower Lecithin Supplement

Some evidence supports the use of *lecithin supplements to reduce the frequency of plugged ducts.

  • Rest & Hydrate

It’s important to take extra good care of yourself during this time. Eat nutritious, wholesome foods, drink plenty of water and take an extra nap or two! I’m serious – don’t skimp on this part.


A clogged duct will not hurt you baby and continued nursing or pumping is encouraged. If the duct does not appear to clear within 24 hours, pain worsens, or other symptoms occur such as a fever, make sure to consult your doctor or lactation consultant.

If you’re struggling at all with low milk supply, make sure to read up on ways to increase your milk supply in a previous post!

Well mamas, let me know what you think or what other tips have worked for you!


*This post contains links to As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

plugged milk duct


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