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Blocked (plugged) duct while breastfeeding

Get advice on how to unblock a blocked duct when breastfeeding.

A blocked or plugged duct can happen when the milk is not flowing freely from the milk duct in your breast.

Signs of a blocked duct

If you have a blocked duct, you will usually notice an area of your breast that is sore. You might feel a hard and tender lump when you press your breast. You will generally feel well.

Talk to your GP or a lactation consultant if you have a blocked duct and develop a fever or flu-like symptoms - you may have mastitis(breast inflammation)

Blocked duct causes

A blocked duct can be caused by:

What you can do for a blocked duct

Warm compress

Place a warm facecloth on your breast, covering the sore area. You can do this before or during feeds.

Gentle massage

Gently but firmly massage your breast starting from behind the sore area. Move along the sore area towards the nipple. This will help relieve the blocked area. Massage through a warm facecloth if it feels more comfortable.

Pain relief

Talk to your GP or pharmacist for advice on what medication you can take to relieve pain from the blocked duct.

Frequent feeding

Feed your baby often and look for signs that they're hungry. Find the position that is most comfortable and allows you to massage your breast as your baby feeds.

Reducing how often your baby feeds from the affected breast, or stopping completely, can make the problem worse

Plenty of rest

Get as much rest as possible. Lie down when feeding. Sleep when your baby is sleeping. Ask your partner, family or friends to help.

Dangle feeding

‘Dangle feeding’ can be useful for relieving a blocked duct.

How it works:

  • Lay your baby on their back with their face towards the ceiling.
  • Kneeling up and resting on your elbows, lean over your baby and position your nipple directly above their mouth.
  • Feed in this position with your breast dangling. Gravity can help release the blockage.

Get support

For help and advice on a blocked duct, contact your:

Page last reviewed: 15/03/2019
Next review due: 15/03/2022