Breastfeeding A to Z

Plugged Duct

If you notice a lump or bump under the skin of the breast, you may have a plugged duct.

This is usually caused by the collecting duct for the milk becoming plugged up. These are things you can do to try and resolve the plug:

  1. It may help to change baby’s position at the breast and you can try having your baby’s nose pointed toward the plugged area. (1)(2)(3)
  2. It will be uncomfortable to push on the area, but gentle massage while baby is feeding can help release the plug. (2)
  3. You can also alternate heat and massage on the area for a few minutes after each feeding.
  4. You want to massage from the plugged area towards the nipple. If you happen to see the plug it may look like some stringy material or piece of rice. If the baby swallows this it will not be a problem.

Usually, 24 hours of massage and heat at each feeding and feeding your baby frequently will clear the plug. You want to resolve this plugged area as soon as possible to avoid having it become an infection or mastitis.

References:

  1. Lawrence,  RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 249-52, 266-67.
  2. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, pp 747-48, 750, 759.
  3. Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J, La Leche League International The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Revised edition, Schaumburg, IL, La Leche League International, Jan 2003, pp 456-57, 466-67, 492, 494-98.