Breastfeeding Woes: Mastitis vs. Clogged Milk Ducts

How to Tell The Difference and What to Do About Them Both

“Hallelujah, my son finally slept through the night! Wait, Uh oh.. Why does the side of my breast kill, and is super tender and red? Oh no, now I am have chills, joint aches, and now I’m down for the count… the dreaded, MASTITIS.” This was my experience I had a couple weeks ago with my first episode of mastitis.

Clogged milk ducts and mastitis are no joke. For some people, they can have a clogged milk duct that never amount to anything and they work themselves out with continued nursing/pumping; but some can decide to blare their nasty head and get infected leading to “knock-you-on-your-butt” flu-like mastitis. Let’s not take that risk and learn some things about clogged milk ducts and how to help prevent them from turning into this cycle!

How can you tell the difference?

  • Clogged/Blocked Milk Duct → feel a lump or blockage, red, tender, warm spot that is localized. 
  • Mastitis →Infection in the clogged duct leading to continued clog symptoms, but now adding in full body aches, low-grade fever, feeling run-down in general; “flu-like symptoms”


What can you do at home to help a clogged duct?

1. Nurse as frequently as possible!

Sit at home topless (no wire bras!) and let that baby latch on as much as they can!

2. Purposful feedings.

  1. Dangle feed → let gravity be your friend! This position will be a little different based on where your clog is located, but allow gravity to be on your side to encourage downward flow!

  2. Baby’s chin facing clog → babies tend to draw more suction from their lower jaw, so position yourself to allow this suction to help draw out the clog.

  3. Massage the clog during feeding.

3. Apply wet or dry heat to the area.

4. Take a warm bath, letting your breast soak in the water.

Try Epsom salt in your bath, too!

5. Try self massage.

6. Drink plenty of water!

7. Rest.

8. Ultrasound!

  1. This is where we can help! Ultrasound can help breakup the buildup of milk and calcium in the duct. Come in for a quick 15 minute appointment!

9. Chest stretches to improve posture and decrease pec tightness

Physical therapy can help with this as well!

Don’t suffer in pain – let us help you get back to a more enjoyable (mastitis free) breastfeeding experience! Come see us.

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