A plugged duct occurs when the milk passageways in the breast become blocked.
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Plugged ducts are a common problem that arises during breast-feeding. They happen when the milk is not drained fully from the breast or when there is too much pressure inside the breast. Milk gets backed up inside the duct and the milk may become thick and not flow properly. It may feel like there is a tender lump in the breast, which can be painful and uncomfortable for a new mother.
A plugged duct can be caused by:
- failure to empty the breast during a feeding
- baby not sucking well or having trouble feeding
- skipped feeding or waiting too long in between feedings
- producing too much milk
- an ineffective breast pump
- abruptly weaning the baby off breast-feeding
- sleeping on the stomach
- tight fitting bras
- anything else that puts pressure on the breast for an extended period of time, for example bunched clothing, a backpack, or a seat belt