Breastfeeding can be a time of connection and bonding for you and your baby during the postpartum period. However, if you’re one of the 2/3 of breastfeeding people who have experienced a clogged milk duct, you know that sometimes it can cause frustration and pain!

Why do I have clogged milk ducts?

Clogged milk ducts occur when milk is not being drained well from the breast.  A clog will feel like a hard, painful, and swollen lump in your breast.

What are the risk factors involved with clogged milk ducts?

Risk factors for clogged milk ducts include:

  • Poor latch or suboptimal feeding positions
  • Infrequent feeding
  • Tight fitting bras or clothing
  • Fatigue and stress

…just to name a few!

While most clogged milk ducts resolve on their own in about 1-2 days, sometimes they don’t go away and need some extra help.

What treatments are available for clogged milk ducts?

A trained Physical Therapist (PT) can be helpful! A trained Physical Therapist is able to assess the clog and use a treatment combination of heat, vibration using an Ultrasound machine, and massage to help clear the duct.  This treatment has been shown to reduce pain and even improve confidence in breastfeeding1!  Physical Therapy treatment for a clogged duct is typically performed 2-3 days in a row with positive results.

The treatments are not painful and while we are working on the clog we can also talk about breastfeeding positions and ergonomics to improve breast emptying as well as address any other aches and pains you may be experiencing while feeding your baby.

We perform this treatment here at Life’s Work PT.  Simply call our office at 503-295-2585 and tell our front desk staff you are having an issue with a clogged milk duct. We will get you scheduled to be treated right away!

What methods can I try at home for clogged milk ducts?

In the meantime, here are some self-clearing tips for at home if you are unable to see a PT right away:

  • Feed frequently and start with the breast that has the clog to ensure full emptying. Self-express or pump after feeding to ensure the breast has emptied.
  • Avoid wearing tight bras and bras with underwire.
  • Try heating the breast up with a shower or warm compress prior to feeding and gently massage your breast prior to improve emptying.
  • Try alternative feeding positions to encourage all ducts emptying such as laying on your side or holding baby in a different way.

If you are having issues with painful breastfeeding, clogged ducts, or want to avoid mastitis, don’t hesitate to reach out for us to assist you! Physical Therapy for clogged ducts is an effective way to help with pain. While you’re here, we can talk about all your postpartum needs and what we can do to help.


  1. Cooper B, Kowalsky D. Physical Therapy Intervention for Treatment of Blocked Milk Ducts in Lactating Women. J Womens Health: Summer 2006 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 26