Blocked Ducts in Breasts (Mastitis)

By Katharine Paljug  @YourCareE
August 31, 2023
Blocked Ducts in Breasts

Mastitis occurs when you have blocked ducts in your breasts. How do you treat mastitis? What causes this breastfeeding complication? Should you keep breastfeeding?

Though breastfeeding is a natural bodily function, it does not always come easily. Many women have trouble breastfeeding. You can have many possible complications with nursing a baby, but one of the most common is mastitis, or blocked ducts in your breasts.


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Blocked ducts in your breasts

Mastitis is an inflammation that results in pain from blocked ducts in your breasts. It can cause difficulty breastfeeding. A bacterial infection often accompanies mastitis. It can affect any woman who is lactating, with or without breastfeeding, and usually occurs in only one breast at a time.

Mastitis is most common during the first few weeks after a baby is born, although it can occur at any time and is common when a baby drops feedings or during weaning. Mastitis may affect as many as 33 percent of lactating women.

If it is left untreated, mastitis can cause breast abscesses, inflamed pockets of pus within breast tissue that are painful and dangerous. Surgery is usually required to effectively drain abscesses in a breast.

What causes mastitis?

Either milk stasis or infection generally causes mastitis.

Milk stasis occurs when milk is not effectively removed from your breast. It’s usually the most frequent cause of mastitis. Common reasons for milk stasis are:

  • Plugged ducts
  • Infrequent or missed breastfeeding
  • Weaning
  • Engorgement or excessive milk supply
  • Trauma to the breast
  • Poor latch or attachment from baby

Causes of mastitis due to infection can include:

  • Bacteria entering through cracked or blistered nipples
  • Illness, stress, or fatigue
  • Yeast infection of your nipple or oral thrush in your baby

Some women are more prone to milk stasis and mastitis than others, depending on their health, stress levels, and milk supply.


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August 31, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN