Getting Rid of Clogged Milk Duct: 6 Tips for Fast Relief

| Reviewed By Sarah Schulze, MSN, APRN, CPNP

If your infant or breast pump is unable to completely extract breast milk during feeding or pumping, it can result in a clogged milk duct.

Will a clogged milk duct eventually dry up? Yes, a clogged milk duct will eventually clear up with the right treatment. A clogged milk duct will not go away on its own. Instead, you need to pump or nurse more often, massage your breasts, or take a hot shower before feeding to relieve your clogged milk duct.

Read on to learn more about how to get rid of a clogged milk duct.

Understanding Clogged Milk Ducts

Clogged milk ducts are common as your baby grows and changes their feeding schedule. Here’s all you need to know about clogged milk ducts.

What Causes Clogged Milk Ducts?

Inflammation in the blood vessels and tissue around the milk ducts cause a clogged milk duct, which can occur from any of the following:

  • Your baby has a poor latch and doesn’t drain your breast during a feeding
  • Taking too much time between feedings
  • Skipping pumping sessions or feedings
  • Changes to your baby’s feeding schedule when starting solids or weaning

Clogged Milk Duct Symptoms

Symptoms of a clogged milk duct include:

  • Dense lump on the breast that decreases after nursing or pumping
  • Discomfort that’s only relieved after pumping or nursing
  • Milk blister at the base of the nipple
  • Swelling or pain near the clogged milk duct

What Does a Clogged Milk Duct Feel Like?

A clogged milk duct feels irritated and painful inside your breast. When you touch your breast, you may also feel a dense, soft, or tender spot where the clogged milk duct is clogged.

With a clogged milk duct, your breasts sometimes feel full even after feeding your baby.

What Does a Clogged Milk Duct Look Like?

A clogged milk duct looks different for every mother, but it always feels uncomfortable.

Some nursing mothers can see a lump on their breasts where the clogged milk duct is located. There may also be some redness or swelling where the lump is on the breast.

Will a Clogged Milk Duct Go Away on Its Own?

No, a clogged milk duct will not go away on its own. You need to unclog the milk duct as soon as possible to prevent an infection.

When treated, a milk duct goes away in a few days, but when untreated, mastitis can develop, and you may need antibiotics to clear the infection.

Can a Clogged Duct Lead to Infection?

Yes, a clogged duct leads to infection when left untreated. The most common issue you can get from a clogged milk duct is mastitis, which also causes a fever, chills, and prolonged pain.

Mastitis vs. Clogged Duct

Mastitis differs from a clogged duct because it leads to a fever and other flu-like symptoms and most easily goes away with antibiotics.

If you have a clogged milk duct, try to relieve it as soon as possible to prevent the development of mastitis.

How To Treat a Clogged Milk Duct

A clogged milk duct is annoying and painful, but it’s easily treatable. Follow these tips to treat a clogged milk duct.

1. Hot Showers

The steam and warmth from a hot shower can relieve the pain caused by a clogged milk duct.

Before nursing your baby or pumping, take a shower or warm bath to reduce the pressure in your breasts. The heat can also help improve milk flow.

2. Massage

A massage is a comfortable, easy way to help clear the duct, especially if you see the milk duct as a lump in your breast.

Besides using your hand, you can also use an electric toothbrush to create a vibration to stimulate milk flow. Some women use a wide-tooth comb to guide the milk out of a clogged milk duct.

3. Pump

Pump between feedings to clear the clogged milk duct if your baby doesn’t need extra feedings. Emptying the breast helps to remove the clog and restore your milk flow.

You may also try hand massaging while pumping to help maneuver the milk out of the breast.

4. Increase Nursing

Regular breastfeeding should help clear your clogged milk duct.

If your baby isn’t unclogging the milk duct, try different breastfeeding positions so your baby accesses different parts of the breasts. Always offer your breast with the blockage first when the baby is most hungry.

5. Dangle Feeding

Dangle feeding is a great breastfeeding position for nursing mothers who feel pressure in their breasts from the clogged milk duct.

Put your baby on the floor or bed underneath you and kneel on all fours, letting your baby nurse from your dangling breasts.

6. Have Husband Unclog Milk Duct

Since your husband has stronger suction power than your baby, when normal breastfeeding doesn’t help to clear the clog, your husband can try to unblock the clog with his mouth.

Give him a bowl to spit out the extra milk if he doesn’t want to drink your breast milk. Keep in mind that it’s safe for him to drink it if he prefers.

A young mother sitting in her bed breastfeeding her baby.

How Long Does It Take To Unblock a Milk Duct?

It takes one to two days to unblock a milk duct when treated. A clogged milk duct will only get unplugged if you treat it; the clog usually doesn’t go away naturally.

It’s best if you treat a clogged milk duct as soon as possible to avoid developing mastitis.

How Do You Know When a Clogged Milk Duct Is Unclogged?

You know when a clogged milk duct is unclogged when you feel relief from those unpleasant symptoms.

Nursing mothers who experience lumps in their breasts when they have clogged milk ducts will no longer see the lumps, and any pain or pressure associated with the clog will disappear.

Clogged Milk Duct Coming Out

A clogged milk duct coming out can be such a sweet relief, especially if you’ve had it for a few days.

Can You Feel a Clogged Milk Duct Release?

Yes, you can feel a clogged milk duct release immediately after it’s unplugged.

If you experience discomfort or pressure from the clogged milk duct, you’ll feel relief from the pain once you have an unclogged milk duct. You also won’t see any lumps in your breast.

What Comes Out of a Clogged Milk Duct?

A milk bleb, or milk blister, comes out of a clogged milk duct. The duct may look different depending on the thickness of the milk.

It typically looks like a plug at the end of the nipple. Sometimes a mother’s milk also becomes stringy like mucus.

How To Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts

Prevent clogged milk ducts by feeding your baby often until your breasts have emptied. If you’re away from your baby, you should also pump during regularly scheduled feedings.

Follow these tips to prevent clogged milk ducts:

  • Take sunflower lecithin supplements
  • Massage your breasts during feedings or pumping sessions
  • Put a cold compress on your breasts after feedings
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
  • Change up breastfeeding positions every once in a while

Conclusion

Clogged milk ducts are uncomfortable but easily treatable. Follow the tips provided above to get the relief you need quickly!

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