Blocked Ducts & Mastitis

Blocked Ducts & Mastitis

Blocked ducts occur when milk is not flowing well from one area of the breast. You may feel a hard, painful lump in your breast. It is very important to clear the blockage to prevent mastitis. Try:

  • Warmth and gentle massage prior to the feed to help get the milk flowing and clear the lump. (Heat bag, warm towel are useful). Massage from behind the blockage down toward the nipple with the flat of two fingers.
  • Start feeds on the affected breast until the lump clears. You may need to express after the feed if you baby is full. A hot shower with soap to massage the lump out is the best technique, don't forget the other breast, make sure it does not get too full and is at risk of blocking.
  • Change feeding positions to help drain the blockage, if you normally feed in the traditional hold, try footy position.
  • Cool packs on the affected area after a feed may help.

    If you begin to feel unwell (flu symptoms) you may be developing mastitis. It is important to seek medical advice.

    Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, which may be due to a blocked duct that hasn't been cleared or from a bacterial infection. Mastitis is generally characterised by red, hot, tender, wedge shaped area on the breast and you may feel ill with flu-like symptoms. Mastitis requires immediate and appropriate treatment. Influencing factors that contribute to the development of mastitis:

  • Poor breast drainage due to poor attachment of baby to breast.
  • Limiting time at the breast.
  • A sudden change in feeding pattern thus allowing breasts to overfill.
  • Missing a feed or more.
  • Pressure on breasts due to tight clothing, i.e. bras, t-shirts.

    Mastitis can be prevented by ensuring correct attachment and adequate breast drainage.
    If however you do get mastitis:

  • Warm the affected area of breast prior to feeding. Hot shower is effective and you may try massaging if not too painful.
  • Adequate and frequent drainage of the breast. You baby is your best source of draining your breasts. You may need to express or massage excess milk out in the shower.
  • Cool packs after feeds on the affected areas to sooth.
  • Rest
  • Antibiotics prescribed by your doctor if necessary.

    Remember it is vital to continue to breastfeed to resolve the problem and prevent complications.

    Mercy Hospital for Women

  • MORE