Blocked ducts

What are blocked ducts?

Ducts carry the milk from deep in the breast to the nipple openings. Sometimes these ducts can become blocked. Milk builds up behind the blockage, a lump forms and your breast begins to feel sore. Your breast may become engorged in one area and might also look red.

Occasionally, a mother with a blocked duct may notice a white spot on her nipple too. 

How can I prevent blocked ducts?

  • Feed your baby often.
  • Avoid tight tops or bras or anything that puts pressure on your breasts.
  • Rest as much as you can, eat well and stay healthy.

How can I relieve a blocked duct?

  • Start treatment as soon as you feel a lump or sore spot.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Keep the affected breast as empty as possible by feeding from that side as often as you can.
  • Apply warmth to the affected breast area before a feed.
  • Feed from the affected breast first, when baby is sucking vigorously.
  • Check that your baby is attached well and can get the milk easily.
  • Relax to help your let-down reflex work well.
  • Gently but firmly massage the lump toward the nipple during (and after) feeds.
  • Change feeding positions to help empty the breast (having baby lower than the blockage can help).
  • Hand express if needed, before and after feeds.
  • Cold packs after a feed may help relieve pain and inflammation.
  • See your medical adviser if you cannot clear the lump in a few days, or sooner if you develop a fever or feel unwell.

Further information

Contact the Breastfeeding Helpline We also offer email counselling to our members as well as a full range of membership benefits

The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association June 2016

Last reviewed: 
Jun 2016