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Blocked Milk Ducts and Breast-Feeding


Blocked Milk Ducts and Breast-Feeding

Milk ducts can become blocked when the lactating breasts become very full (engorged) and are not emptied regularly. A blocked milk duct feels like a tender lump on the breast.

You can treat a blocked duct with self-care measures. Help unblock milk ducts by:

  • Taking a warm shower or applying a warm, wet compress several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. To make a warm compress, soak a hand towel in warm water. Wring out the excess water and place the towel on the affected breast. Cover the compress with a second, dry towel to trap the heat.
  • Massaging over the area of the blocked duct, moving toward the nipple, before and during breast-feeding.
  • Breast-feeding more frequently.
  • Using a variety of breast-feeding positions.
  • Feeding from the affected breast first. This moves the milk through the breast more effectively because the baby's sucking is most intense at the beginning of a feeding session.
  • Taking ibuprofen to reduce swelling.

A blocked duct can become infected (mastitis). If you have signs of a breast infection (mastitis), you may need to call your doctor right away.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedMay 4, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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