Blocked ducts in Breastfeeding

Posted by Anonymous on - 1 reply

I have extremely painful blocked ducts in my right breast. how can I clear these? I don't know if the baby is getting much milk from this breast. When I express I get very little out. I am expressing little and often from this breast with the use of a hot water bottle. How can I get rid of this terrible pain?

Users' Replies

Jun 26, 2017 18:52 PM


First of all, I'm so sorry you're having such a painful time at the moment. Pain is our body's way of telling us that there is a problem which needs to be fixed. You haven't said how old your baby is. With younger babies, this is fairly common as the milk supply settles down and calibrates itself to the amount your baby actually needs. In older babies, sometimes something is stopping your breast from draining well. Here are some common reasons for this type of problem:
-Your baby is not attached deeply to your breast
-You are lifting or holding your breast (sometimes using a nursing cushion can do this as well)
-Your baby is fussy on this breast, and tends to not finish a feed
-Your baby's head tends to turn preferentially towards one side
- Your bra does not fit well
Whatever the reason for your problem, you are right that your two top priorities are:
-Feed your baby!
-Get milk out of your breast and get rid of the lumps
First things first - you'll know your baby is getting enough because they will do at least 2 yellow poos the size of a 50p every day (until about 4-6 weeks), and several wet nappies. Your baby will also gain weight appropriately. Don't forget that weight gain slows down as babies get older.

Secondly, you are doing lots of good tactics to help drain your breast. But when you have a blocked duct, the lumps you feel are mostly caused by lymph glands that swell up in response to inflammation. The lymph glands often press on the milk ducts and stop milk from flowing freely - which is probably why you aren't getting milk out despite feeling so full and sore. You'll need to drain the lymph away from your breast by stroking from your nipple to your armpit (opposite direction to what you've probably been trying!). This often takes at least 30 minutes. Here are some more tips to get milk moving which will relieve your discomfort:
-Use cold packs first (just like you would with a sprained ankle)
-Try to be as reclined as possible - gravity helps to drain the fluid away
-With oiled hands, stroke from nipple to armpit
-Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, as long as you are not allergic to it
-Drink plenty of water - this helps your body to get rid of fluid as well
-Once milk starts to drip from your nipple, then you can start to express
-Use a good quality breast pump and if that doesn't work, then hand express
Watch this video which will guide you through how to massage and hand express to clear the fluid:
If you start to develop chills and a fever, or become worried that this is getting worse, then please see your GP. If this is a problem that you find difficult to resolve, then please do make an appointment with me or one of the other lactation consultants.

Good luck, and I hope you feel better soon,

Lyndsey (IBCLC)