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The Milk Ducts and Associated Breastfeeding Issues

The milk ducts, additionally referred to as lactiferous ducts, are the tubes that carry your breast milk from the place it’s made within the glandular tissue of your breast out to your nipple. There are roughly 15 to twenty milk ducts situated in your breast. The place the duct ends at your nipple there are small openings that permit the breast milk to circulation out of your physique and to your child.

When your child is latched on correctly and breastfeeding, the motions of your child’s jaw, gums, and tongue assist to tug the milk by way of the ducts and out of your nipple into your child’s mouth. Your let-down reflex additionally helps your milk to circulation by way of the milk ducts and out to your child.

The milk ducts play an vital position within the supply of breast milk to your baby, however they may also be a supply of breast issues.

Issues Involving the Milk Ducts

A few of the frequent issues of breastfeeding contain points with the milk ducts. When breast milk will get clogged contained in the ducts or blocks the opening of a duct, it may be painful and intrude with breastfeeding.

Different, much less frequent points can develop within the milk ducts, as effectively. Listed here are 7 breastfeeding issues which might be associated to the milk ducts.

Plugged Milk Ducts

The most typical milk duct issues that develop throughout breastfeeding are plugged milk ducts. The milk ducts can get clogged if your breasts grow to be engorged, in case your child doesn’t empty your breasts effectively, or in the event you put on very tight clothes or a poorly fitted bra that places strain in your breasts.

Plugged milk ducts really feel like small, tender lumps within the breast tissue. They normally resolve themselves in just a few days, or will be handled utilizing therapeutic ultrasound.


If a plugged milk duct doesn’t go away by itself in just a few days, it might result in mastitis. Mastitis is a breast an infection that will seem in a young, pink, heat space in your breast. When you develop mastitis, you may additionally develop a fever and flu-like signs.

Mastitis must be recognized and handled by your doctor, and will require antibiotics.


Blebs are small blockages that kind on the tip of the nipple on the opening of a milk duct. For some girls, blebs are usually not noticeable and for others, they are often very painful. Generally blebs will go away on their very own. Nonetheless, if they’re painful, see your physician.

Broken Milk Ducts

Milk ducts within the breast can grow to be broken by breast surgical procedure or radiation remedy. This harm can result in a diminished milk provide.

Intraductal Papilloma

Intraductal papillomas are small non-cancerous growths that may develop within the milk ducts and trigger bleeding out of your nipples or blood in your breast milk. Relying on the placement of the expansion, you might or might not have the ability to really feel a lump. The lump shouldn’t proceed to develop, and the nipple discharge shouldn’t last more than just a few days.

Mammary Duct Ectasia

Extra frequent in menopausal girls, the milk ducts can grow to be swollen or contaminated. Though it is not thought of a harmful drawback, duct ectasia must be evaluated and handled by your physician.

Breast Most cancers

Breast most cancers can develop inside the milk ducts of the breast and may unfold to different components of the physique. Such a breast most cancers is known as ductal carcinoma. When you really feel a lump in your breast that doesn’t go away or get smaller inside every week, otherwise you discover blood in your breast milk that continues for various days, see your physician for an examination.

To reduce milk duct points be certain that your child is latching on accurately and breastfeed your child fairly often.

Use completely different breastfeeding positions to empty all of the areas of your breast and keep away from placing pointless strain in your breast tissue. You must also proceed to do your month-to-month breast self-exam so to acknowledge and deal with any points instantly.  

Verywell Household makes use of solely high-quality sources, together with peer-reviewed research, to help the information inside our articles. Learn our editorial course of to study extra about how we fact-check and maintain our content material correct, dependable, and reliable.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Breast Anatomy.

  2. Marcellin L, Chantry A. Problems of breastfeeding. Rev Prat. 2016;66(2):202-206.

  3. Lavigne V, Gleberzon BJ. Ultrasound as a remedy of mammary blocked duct amongst 25 postpartum lactating girls: a retrospective case sequence. J Chiropr Med. 2012;11(3):170-178. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2012.05.011

  4. Cullinane M, Amir LH, Donath SM, et al. Determinants of mastitis in girls within the CASTLE examine: a cohort examine. BMC Fam Pract. 2015;16:181. doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0396-5

  5. Kent JC, Ashton E, Hardwick CM, et al. Nipple Ache in Breastfeeding Moms: Incidence, Causes and Remedies. Int J Environ Res Public Well being. 2015;12(10):12247–12263. doi:10.3390/ijerph121012247

  6. Leal SC, Stuart SR, Carvalho Hde A. Breast irradiation and lactation: a overview. Professional Rev Anticancer Ther. 2013;13(2):159-164. doi:10.1586/period.12.178

  7. Mazzarello S, Arnaout A. Nipple discharge. CMAJ. 2015;187(8):599. doi:10.1503/cmaj.140633

  8. American Most cancers Society. If You Have Breast Most cancers.

  9. Persevering with help for toddler and younger baby feeding. In: Toddler and Younger Youngster Feeding: Mannequin Chapter for Textbooks for Medical College students and Allied Well being Professionals. Geneva: World Well being Group; 2009.

Extra Studying

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mom’s Information To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

  • American Most cancers Society. Intraductal Papillomas of the Breast.

  • Boakes E, Woods A, Johnson N, Kadoglou N. Breast An infection: A Evaluation of Analysis and Administration Practices. Eur J Breast Well being. 2018;14(3):136–143. Revealed 2018 Jul 1. doi:10.5152/ejbh.2018.3871

  • Breastcancer.org. Mammary Duct Ectasia.

  • Worldwide Breast Feeding Centre. Blocked Ducts and Mastitis.

  • Neifert M. Breastfeeding after breast surgical process or breast most cancers. NAACOGS Clin Issu Perinat Womens Well being Nurs. 1992;3(4):673-82.

  • Zucca-Matthes G, City C, Vallejo A. Anatomy of the nipple and breast ducts. Gland Surg. 2016;5(1):32–36. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2227-684X.2015.05.10

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN

Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers College and is a present member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.

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