Blocked milk ducts

Milk ducts in the breast may become blocked during breast-feeding when the breasts are full and not emptied regularly or thoroughly. Blocked milk ducts cause a lump that is occasionally tender and can become infected (mastitis).

Blocked milk ducts may be treated by:

  • Breast-feeding more often and in different positions, which helps drain milk from all parts of the breast.
  • Breast-feeding from the affected breast first, to move milk through the breast faster.
  • Applying moist heat to the area just before breast-feeding and hand-expressing or pumping a small amount of milk.
  • Massaging the area, always working toward the nipple, to increase the flow of milk before and during breast-feeding.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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