mother feeding her baby

How to Relieve a Clogged Milk Duct

Women who breastfeed sometimes get clogged milk ducts, which feel like a tender lump in the breast. Some women just seem more prone to them than others, but removing milk usually is key to preventing and managing them.

What causes a clogged milk duct?

Milk ducts get clogged when milk fat cannot pass through the duct. The duct becomes swollen and can become sensitive or painful until it is unclogged. Several factors can lead to a clogged duct:

  • The time between feedings or pumping sessions has changed recently. You might have gotten busy or distracted and not even realized it, but a delay can cause a clogged duct.
  • The way your baby is sucking could contribute to a clogged milk duct. Your baby’s latch might need to be reviewed by a lactation consultant to make sure he or she is getting enough milk during feedings. Pediatric Partners provides expert lactation consultants in our newborn practice, Bella Bambino.
  • Nursing bras and clothing can bunch up during feedings and put pressure on milk ducts, which can cause a clogged duct.

How do you relieve a clogged milk duct?

If a milk duct becomes clogged, do not stop breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeed or remove milk more often. Alternating feeding positions also can help. Apply a warm compress to the area or soak your breast in warm water while massaging the lump. Be sure to massage above and around the affected area during feeding or pumping.

How do you know when a clogged milk duct is unclogged?

When the clogged duct becomes unclogged, you will feel immediate relief and might see milk begin flowing more quickly if you are pumping. Keep in mind that the clog is simply milkfat and is completely safe if your baby ingests it while breastfeeding.

When do you need to seek help?

If you have tried the steps above, and the lump does not go away within a few days, contact your doctor. Contact your doctor immediately if you feel ill, develop a fever or chills, or the area around the lump begins to look red. This could be a sign that you have an infection and might need antibiotics.

Pediatric Partners has three locations to better serve our patients. The Evans office is at 411 Town Park Blvd.; the downtown Augusta office is at 1303 D’Antignac St., Suite 2600; and the new Grovetown office is at 5135 Wrightsboro Road. For more information about Pediatric Partners, call the office at 706-854-2500, visit, or follow the Pediatric Partners of Augusta Facebook page.

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