Plugged Ducts

It is common for many women to have a plugged duct in the breast at some point if she breastfeeds. A plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast. It is not accompanied by a fever or other symptoms. It happens when a milk duct does not properly drain and becomes inflamed. Then, pressure builds up behind the plug, and surrounding tissue becomes inflamed. A plugged duct usually only occurs in one breast at a time.


  • You can help relieve soreness and speed healing by applying heat to the sore area. You can use a heating pad or a small hot-water bottle. Cabbage leaves should not be used for a plugged duct. It also helps to massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Use your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
  • Breastfeed often on the affected side. This helps loosen the plug, keeps the milk moving freely, and keeps the breast from becoming overly full. Nursing every two hours, both day and night on the affected side first, can be helpful.
  • Getting extra sleep or relaxing with your feet up can help speed healing. Often a plugged duct or breast infection is the first sign that a mother is doing too much and becoming overly tired.
  • Wear a well-fitting supportive bra that is not too tight, since this can constrict milk ducts.

Ask for help if the plugged duct is not loosening. It can turn into a breast infection.