Breastfeeding Complications: What the heck are plugged ducts?


A plugged duct is when breast milk solids accumulate in a milk duct within the breast. This is different that a bleb because of the location of the plug.

There are a lot of possibilities to what can cause a plugged duct:

  1. Wearing a bra that fits too tightly
  2. The positioning of your baby at the breast might be a little wonky causing a poor latch
  3. A large space in between feedings




How do you treat a plugged duct?

  • The first thing you may want to consider is to “measure” how far back the lump is.
    • Imagine your nipple as a clock. What number does it fall behind? Then how many finger widths back does it go? Maybe its at2 o’clock and 3 finger widths back.
    • The goal of doing this is to see is the lump is moving when milk is being released.
  • Although uncomfortable you will want to nurse on
    the side with the plug first, and often. Not saying to not feed off of the other breast, but maybe offer the affected side first at each feeding.
  • When your baby is nursing you may want to consider doing breast massages to help keep things going.
  • You may want to consider switching positions so your baby’s chin in pointing a different direction than normal.
  • Ideally, you want the plug to start to move towards your nipple, then disappear within two days. Although you may feel tenderness for a few extra days.

Risks of Plugged ducts?

  • General pain and discomfort
  • Decreased milk production due to the pain decreasing frequency of feedings
  • Mastitis risk


If you your plug does not move or disappear then it is best to contact your caregiver for a physical exam.


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