Plugged Milk Ducts
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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (North Crossing)

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Waterloo, Iowa 50703

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Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (San Marnan)

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waverly)

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Waverly, Iowa 50677

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Plugged Milk Ducts

This can occur when your breast is not emptied often enough such as with a missed feeding or a pumping is delayed. It can also occur with return to work, during an illness, when baby sleeps longer at night or begins taking solids. A bra that is too tight can also cause a plugged duct.

When a milk duct is plugged, you may feel a tender area or painful lump. The skin over the area may be reddened. Plugged milk ducts do not usually need to be treated with antibiotics, but they must be taken care of immediately.


  • Apply warm moist cloths to the tender area for 10 min. before nursing or pumping
  • Massage the plugged area before, during and/or after the nursing/pumping
  • If nursing start on the effected breast first, pointing baby's nose towards the "plug"
  • Nurse/pump more frequently until the area plugged is resolved
  • Place cold compress 10 min. after emptying, then cabbage may be apply until it wilts (use the cabbage treatment sparingly so as not to shut down production)
  • Loosen any tight fitting bras or clothes
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Ask for help with child care or household tasks
  • Drink more fluid and eat foods high in protein/Vitamin C
  • Take OTC oral analgesic as needed for discomfort and swelling

Call Allen Hospital's Lactation Consultant at (319) 235-3620, if you have additional questions.

If plugged duct does not clear and your symptoms persist or worsen, call your doctor.