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How do I manage a blocked duct?

Expert’s answer:

Blocked duct

With a blocked duct Mums will usually notice an area of breast that is sore and feels hard and painful when pressed. A blocked duct can happen when the milk is not flowing freely from that milk duct in your breast. This may be caused by very long gaps between feeds (6 hours or more), a ‘bleb’ or blister, the position of your baby when feeding or if your bra is too tight.

Treatment for a blocked duct is:

  • Warm compresses - Place a warm facecloth on your breast, covering the sore area. You can do this before or during feeds;
  • Gentle massage - gently but firmly massage your breast from behind the sore area, along the sore area towards the nipple. Use as much pressure as you can tolerate. This will help relieve the blocked area. Massage through a warm facecloth if it feels more comfortable;
  • Pain relief – use Ibuprofen or paracetamol;
  • Frequent feeding - feed your baby frequently, when they show early feeding cues. It can help to change your baby’s position slightly at the affected breast so they help drain the blocked duct or try ‘Dangle Feeding’ (reducing the frequency of feeding from the affected breast, or stopping fully can cause more severe problems to develop, such as mastitis); and
  • Plenty of rest - get plenty of rest, lie down when feeding. Sleep when your baby is sleeping. Ask your partner, family or friends to help with older children.

‘Dangle feeding’ can be useful – lay your baby on their back with their face towards the ceiling. Kneeling up and resting on your elbows, lean over baby and position your nipple directly above their mouth. Feed in this position with your breast dangling, the gravity can help release any blockage.

If this doesn’t help relieve symptoms contact your midwife, public health nurse, local Breastfeeding Support Volunteer or Lactation Consultant for help.

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