plugged ducts

Plugged Ducts and Mastitis

woman laying on couch with fever from mastitis

Most women who breastfeed will experience plugged ducts at one time or another. If you have a plugged duct, you will probably experience tenderness and soreness in one part of your breast. It may be red and develop into a hard, painful bump. It is important to treat a plugged duct promptly because untreated; the condition can worsen to mastitis. Mastitis is a painful infection marked by breast soreness, aches, and fever.

Treatment for Plugged Ducts

  • Nurse as much as you can from the sore breast. Offer the sore breast first since that is when baby will nurse harder. If baby does not empty the breast, express the extra milk yourself. An empty breast is a happy breast.

  • Try different nursing positions and make sure baby is latching on correctly. Try aiming your baby’s chin toward the sore spot. This will help you to use the suction created by baby’s nursing to unclog the duct.

  • Gently massage the breast from the top toward the nipple.

  • Use heat. A hot compress, heating pad, shower or bath will all help unplug the duct.

  • Make sure your nursing bra fits correctly and is not too tight.

  • Take Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain. You’ll be able to nurse longer if you are not in too much pain.


If your symptoms get worse, and if you start having flu-like symptoms, you may have mastitis. If you suspect mastitis, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. Mastitis is often bacterial and antibiotics are frequently prescribed to treat it. It is important to get mastitis treated quickly so that it does not turn into a bigger infection that would require surgery to remedy. It is also important to take good care of yourself. Get a lot of rest, eat well, and stay hydrated.

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