Engorgement and Plugged Ducts
A feeling of fullness is normal in the first few weeks. However, if your baby doesn’t remove enough milk from your breasts, they may become uncomfortably full, hard, or warm to the touch. This is called engorgement.

To prevent engorgement:
• Breastfeed on demand, at least 10 times per 24 hours . Every 2 hours or sooner if baby shows
signs of hunger. Don't skip feedings (even at night) If baby is very sleepy: wake baby to nurse
every 2-3 hours, allowing one longer stretch of 4-5 hours at night.
• Avoid pacifiers and bottles during the first few weeks (so that baby effectively sucks to
stimulate your milk production. Artificial nipples can be "confusing.")
• Allow baby to finish the first breast before offering the other side. Switch sides when baby
pulls off or falls asleep. Don’t limit baby’s time at the breast.
• If baby is not nursing well, express your milk regularly and frequently to maintain milk supply
and minimize engorgement.

To treat engorgement:

Before feedings:
• Put a warm wet cloth on your breasts or take a warm shower to help your milk flow.
• Massage your breasts gently.
• Express some milk to soften your breast.

Between feedings:
• Put a cool cloth or an ice pack on your breasts for comfort and to help reduce swelling.

Other treatments for engorgement:

Cabbage Leaves
To use cabbage leaves:

• Green cabbage leaves may be used chilled or at room temperature.
• Wash cabbage leaves and apply to breasts between feedings.
• For engorgement or oversupply: Limit use as cabbage can decrease milk supply. Leave on for
20 minutes, no more than 3 times per day; discontinue use as soon an
engorgement/oversupply begins to subside.
• During the weaning process: Leave the leaves on the breast until they wilt, then apply new
leaves as often as needed for comfort.

Plugged duct/breast infection:
A plugged duct is a sore area on one breast, which is caused by breastmilk not moving through the milk duct. To treat a plugged duct:
• Breastfeed often. Try different positions. Baby’s nose needs to point toward the tender spot on
your breast to help remove the plug. Begin on the sore side first.
• Before a feeding, put a warm wet washcloth on your breast and massage the tender spot.
• Take care of yourself. Rest and eat well!

If you also have flu-like symptoms or have a fever, you may have a breast infection called Mastitis. Contact your doctor, as you may need an antibiotic.

You can and should continue breastfeeding!
Plugged Duct or Mastitis

Show All Answers

1. Is my body ready to breastfeed?
2. How do I know when my baby is hungry?
3. How should I hold my baby when I feed him?
4. What is Laid-back breastfeeding?
5. My breasts feel too full. Do I have too much milk?
6. How can I tell if my baby is getting enough to eat?
7. How do I know my baby is full?
8. How do I feed my sleepy baby?
9. Do I have too little milk?
10. Engorgement and Plugged Ducts
11. Do I have flat or inverted nipples?
12. Sore nipples
13. How do I calm my fussy baby?
14. Calming a Colicky Breastfed Baby
15. Breastmilk Storage and Collection
16. How should I care for myself after my baby is born?
17. How do I know when to call my doctor?
18. Vitamin D and Breastfeeding
19. What are my rights as a breastfeeding mother?
20. Will I spoil my baby if I pick him up when he cries?
21. What if my family doesn't support breastfeeding?