23 answers

Clogged Mammary Gland

I have been breastfeeding my 4 month old son without incident, until this morning I woke up and realized my right breast is sore and engorged on the upper right side. It is not red or hot to the touch, but sore and swollen like the milk is not able to be let down. Has anybody had this problem? Will it eventually go away--what should I do?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

ugh. that is the worst. I encountered that several times. What worked best for me was a warm shower, massage and then if necessary...a heating pad. Good luck.....it gets better...

Hi! My doctor prescribed a medication for me and it went away within a few days. Warm clothes helped in the meantime. Good Luck!

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I had that (ouch!) an dliterally dangled my breast is hot water, as HOT as you can stand it and then put hard pressure, kneading inward the same time I pumped/breast fed. It hurt BAD to do this but it had been a few days and started to hurt so bad I was crying and my doc office was closed! good luck! I heard using a variety of nursing positions helps prevent this

I had this as well. Not hot or red, but very sore. It took a few days to resolve after massaging the bump in a hot shower to unclog it and then making sure my daughter always started nursing on that side so that her chin would massage the lump.

A heating pad helped me and it worked really fast!

Hi K., this happened to me all the time. Always start feedings on the sore breast. The baby will be very hungry and will suck harder, helping to loosen the milk duct. If that doesn't work, try taking a hot bath and massage your breast in the hot water. It will hurt a little at first, but the warm water will feel SO good and it will eventually loosen. I read the note about sticking a needle in the milk duct. That doesn't sound right, so maybe ask a doctor or La Leche League, etc., before doing that. You do want to take care of this or it will turn into mastitis. Good luck!

I also had this with my daughter (now 6 years old). Apply moist heat often. I used a wash cloth with warm water. Also massage. For me this was very painful and I didn't do it as often as I should have. I ended up with an absess & extreme pain. I almost had to have it cut out. I'm not saying this to scare you, just to get you to see your dr., apply MOIST heat & massage. Just remember...this too shall pass.

That sucks, it happened to me once. You want to nurse as much as you can on that side to unclog it, as much as it hurts. I even read somewhere that if you get on all fours and nurse like that it will unclog faster due to gravity. If you can see on your nipple where your milk is plugged you can very carefully, with a sterilized needle, try and pop it. My midwife suggested that and it worked. Then just keep nursing a lot. I don't remember if I used heat or ice. I think heat.
Good luck.

Hello K.,
I never experienced this, but I hope the response below helps. ( I was going to say to call your doctor, but then I read the response below---- sounds like it will work.:) Good Luck!

A warm moist compress (a wet towel in the microwave) and massage will help. Or stand in a very warm, but not steaming hot, shower. Keep an eye though since it may produce a fever quickly since clogged glands can cause an infection known as mastitis. I used to get it when nursing my daughter. It will become quite painful if it doesn't pass. If you spike a fever, call the Doctor immediately. Hope this helps! P. :)

Hopefully this is resolved by now, but you need to massage it HARD - preferably while nursing your son or pumping. Put some massage oil or lotion on your hand to make it slide better. You can also try and do it in a hot shower. Put some soap on your hands to make them slide over your breast easier and massage towards the nipple. When the duct pops open it will suddenly release a big stream of milk (which is sort of fun to watch) - and then it will feel better.

When you're in the shower you can hand express milk as you massage. Look closely at your nipple and you might see a little white dot that doesn't rinse off - that's what's blocking the duct. You can try pinching it to squeeze it out, or scraping it gently with your fingernail (which is clean, since you're in the shower).

It's really important to make sure you open up the duct or you can end up with mastitis or, if you let it go too long, an abscess. Ouch!

If you have a fever, try and consult your doc.Try to wrap a warm towel around the breast all the way to the upper part about five minutes before breastfeeding. Also, standing under a warm shower for sometime will also help. Then start to feed baby on the fuller breast first while using your free hand to massage downwards gently.
All of these things helped me. If not, you might need to see a lactation consultant. Good luck

You poor thing. Anything that could go wrong with breasting feeding/pumping and engorgement went wrong with me. But I just finished 12 months of breastfeeding my 1 year old - so you just have to figure out the problem. Once you got it, it won't be discouraging any longer.

Try a warm shower to get the milk to let down just prior to feeding your son. Make sure that you nipples are cleaned well with water and gently with a washcloth (I'll explain). Let him start feeding on your right breast since he'll be more aggressive with his feeding starting off and try massaging the lump downwards. This rarely broke the engorged milk duct for me.

What FINALLY WORKS is express by hand the affected breast (this is done just down by the nipple), because the occlusion is usually down low by the nipple. In fact, if you inspect your nipple, you may find a white pin size dot - THAT'S WHAT'S BLOCKING THE MILK FROM COMING DOWN!!!

This sounds like much, but if you see this dot and you can't break this by expressing your milk manually, then a sewing needle is accurate and will break it. Once it's broken the milk will come out on it's own.

It happens very frequently to one of my breast(it is always the same one) as well. Like the other mothers said, I always massage the area in hot shower, then nurse my son right after. That seems to help the most. I also massage it as he nurses or when I pump my breasts.
When I feel it is coming, I try not to sleep on that side as it seems to block the circulation and make it worse. I also wear loose clothing and try not to do something stressful (which is not always easy) as it affects the let-down.
Clogged ducts are pretty common. Make sure they won't turn into full-blown mastitis. Good luck!


warm compresses and massage as Pamela mentioned. Also line your son up when he is feeding so that his chin is inline with the swelling.

you are welcome to call me.

Pres.Lactation Support Group, Inc
800 LACTATE/ ###-###-####

Hi! My doctor prescribed a medication for me and it went away within a few days. Warm clothes helped in the meantime. Good Luck!

I used cabbage leaves when I was breastfeeding. I would line my bra with them when I wasn't feeding. It sound goofy but they did help with the pain.

a warm washcloth and massaging the swollen area always helped me.

ugh. that is the worst. I encountered that several times. What worked best for me was a warm shower, massage and then if necessary...a heating pad. Good luck.....it gets better...

I had this problem several times while breastfeeding my daughter. In addition to those things already mentioned by other moms, the lactation consultant recommended soy lecithin and it seemed to work well for me. She recommended 1-2 capsules(1,200 mg each),3 or 4 times a day. Also, drink a lot of water. Hang in there. I know it is very painful, but it will pass. I will say that one time my milk ducts were clogged for a week, but that was an unusually long time. Most times it cleared up in a few days.

Try a hot shower or place a warm washcloth over the clogged gland. It will probably happen again. It is natural.
Good luck.

sounds like mastitis! ouch! i had it and it was the absolute worst thing to deal with.

Pointing baby's chin toward the clog totally works for me. I usually have to nurse "upside-down" by lying on my side with baby on his side, but feet pointed the opposite direction. I read somewhere that the suction is the strongest where the baby's chin is pointed. Definitely start with the clogged side first. Good luck!

This happened to me on a weekly basis with my first baby. For starters don't wear an underwire nursing bra when you have a clogged duct or any tight shirts. Get a nursing sleep bra, they are wonderful! About $10 from MOtherhood. Start by putting on a warm compress right before you nurse and have your son start on that side even if he shouldn't until it is unclogged. Also try different nursing positions. I had one on the underside of my breast and I would have to lay my daughter on the floor and kneel at her head and hang my breast over her. Sounds crazy, but it worked. While he is nursing, massage the clogged area toward your nipple as hard as you can without de-latching your little one. Also do that once you are done nursing. This will hurt, but it is better than a clogged milk duct! You should be able to unclog it with one to three feedings. Good luck!

I have. Make sure you use warm compresses on it. Also, when the baby eats or you pump milk that duct down, you can use a warm compress on it then too. Also, position your baby so the top or bottom lip is in that direction so they make sure to drain and provide suction to that duct. You con't just let it be though or it could go to mastitis. If you get a fever, call your OB. even if you get mastitis, you still have to nurse through it.

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