How to Recognize and Treat a Blocked Milk Duct

Blocked ducts are common. They present as a tender, small lump in the breast. The skin over the lump may appear red and be warm to the touch. With proper treatment blocked ducts will resolve within 24-48hrs after onset. During this time the baby may be fussy when nursing on the side with the plugged duct as milk flow will be slower.

Blocked ducts are not mastitis although if the blockage is not relieved mastitis may occur as a result. Blocked ducts do not require antibiotic treatment whereas mastitis most often, although not always, needs antibiotics. The difference between a blocked duct and mastitis is the presence of a fever and general flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are usually not present with a blocked duct.


  • Continue to breastfeed on the breast with the blockage.

  • While the baby is nursing (or when pumping or hand expressing) massage the breast and massage the lump towards the nipple.

  • Massage the breast and lump under a warm shower.

  • Apply a moist, warm towel to the breast before breastfeeding.

When to call your Lactation Consultant:

  • If you are unable to latch your baby to the breast.

  • If you are unable to release the plugged duct within 24-48hrs and you do NOT have signs of mastits (fever, flu-like symptoms).

  • If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding.

  • If you start developing flu-like symptoms please let your lactation consultant know and they will be able to advise you on your next steps.


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