Breast-Feeding: Help for Blocked Milk Ducts

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Breast-Feeding: Help for Blocked Milk Ducts

Topic Overview

Blocked milk ducts may develop during breast-feeding when the breasts become too full. This may also occur if:

  • The breasts are overly constricted, such as from wearing a bra that is too tight or does not fit well.
  • Your baby does not breast-feed often enough to empty your breasts.
  • Your baby breast-feeds in the same position at each feeding, which occasionally causes some ducts to not empty well.

You can 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.

Related Information


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant
Last Revised May 13, 2011

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