Plugged ducts can be a common ailment experienced during breastfeeding. There is a lot of information circulating on the internet and social media about how to treat it but we now know many of those remedies are not the best course of action. So what is a plugged duct and what is the best way to get rid of it? Read on to find out!
A plugged duct is an area of the breast where milk flow becomes obstructed. Typically, this will come on gradually and only affect one breast. You might notice a hard lump in the area and it may be tender to the touch. It can be very painful when you nurse or pump, especially during a letdown.
Plug ducts are actually ducts that have been narrowed, either from swelling of mammary tissue around the duct or narrowing resulting from the breast microbiome being out of balance.
It’s not an actual plug of hardened milk like commonly thought. This in fact is not physiologically or anatomically possible as the milk ducts are microscopic and interwoven.
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has recently updated it’s mastitis protocol and includes updated information on how to treat plugged ducts. (Plugged ducts actually fall along a spectrum of things that can occur when you have breast inflammation.)