how to massage breast lumps while breastfeeding

How to Massage Breast Lumps While Breastfeeding: 6 Easy Ways

Absolutely, breastfeeding is a uniquely rewarding journey, but as we know, it does come with its challenges. We moms often have to grapple with issues like clogged or blocked milk ducts.

Picture this: these milk ducts are like tiny milk highways from deep in your breast to your nipple. Sometimes, they can get blocked, causing lumps and discomfort, and making nursing a bit of a painful task.

But hey, don’t worry. There are ways to manage this. Gentle breast massages can often help ease the blocked duct, but remember breast massage has to be super soft to avoid any additional discomfort.

If you’re dealing with breast lumps, it’s important to chat with a healthcare professional. Though it’s usually just a clogged milk duct, we want to rule out any potential infection or even rare cases of breast cancer.

As mothers, we’ve got this incredible inner strength, and with the right information and support, we can navigate these bumps in our breastfeeding journey. Remember, you’re not alone, whether you are a working mom or stay-at-home mom, and there’s always help and advice available to you.

How to massage breast lumps while breastfeeding Melissa Kotlen Nagin IBCLC demonstrates how to relieve a clogged duct
Cause of LumpDescription of the CauseTechnique to Massage the Lump
EngorgementThis happens when the breasts are overly full due to the milk not being efficiently removed. This can lead to lumps forming.Start with a warm compress to help loosen the milk. Gently massage from the armpit area towards the nipple in a downward motion, mimicking the direction of milk flow.
Blocked Milk DuctA milk duct can become blocked when the breast isn’t completely emptied during feedings. This can result in a lump.Apply a warm compress before feeding or pumping. Massage in small circular motions, starting at the outer edge of the lump and moving towards the nipple.
MastitisThis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. You might also have flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.Use a warm compress before breastfeeding or pumping. Massage from the chest wall towards the nipple using your fingertips, pressing down and rolling forward as if trying to push the milk toward the nipple.
Milk BlisterThis occurs when a tiny bit of skin overgrows a milk duct opening and milk backs up behind it, forming a blister-like lump.Soak the area with warm saline before feedings. After soaking, try to gently massage the area. You can also massage the breast while the baby is feeding.
Plugged Ducts from Improper LatchingImproper latching can result in milk not being effectively removed from the breast, leading to a plugged duct.Before feeding, use a warm compress and massage the breast gently. It can also help to improve the baby’s latch, as this can aid in better emptying of the breast.
GalactocelesGalactoceles are fluid-filled cysts that can form in the breast tissue.To massage for galactoceles, start by applying hot water to the affected area to increase blood flow and soften the cyst. Then, use your fingers to gently massage the lump in a circular motion towards the affected side, the opposite direction of the nipple. You can also try using a mirror to help you locate the cyst and massage it more effectively.
Types of breast lump and massage techniques

Please remember that this is general advice and may not be suitable for everyone. Anyone experiencing persistent issues should consult a healthcare professional. Additionally, while massage can help in many instances, it’s not the only solution and other interventions may be necessary depending on the cause and severity of the lump.

Other Treatments for Breast Lumps

  • Breastfeeding: Continuing breastfeeding or pumping is important to help clear a clogged milk duct. Modifying your feeding positions can also aid in clearing the plugged area. Nipple damage should be avoided, as cracked or bleeding nipples can increase the risk of mastitis.

  • Hot and cold therapy: Applying moist heat to clogged milk ducts can be hugely beneficial. This can be achieved through hot showers or with a warm compress on the affected breast. Cold compresses or ice packs can help to numb the area and reduce pain. You can alternate between hot and cold therapy to achieve the best results.

  • Lactation massager: Some mothers find relief using a lactation massager, designed to alleviate breast milk engorgement, blocked ducts, and other breastfeeding symptoms whether breastfeeding or pumping.

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if the lump is caused by an infection. Always consult with your doctor before taking any medication while breastfeeding.

  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a breast lump. This is usually reserved for cases where the lump is large, painful, or has the potential to be cancerous. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with you and help you make an informed decision.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound may be used to diagnose breast lumps and determine their size and location. This is a non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It is safe to use while breastfeeding and does not expose you or your baby to radiation.

Remember, breast lumps are common while breastfeeding, and most are not cancerous. However, it is important to seek medical attention if you notice any changes in your breast tissue.

What Are Breast Lumps?

A breast lump is a mass or swelling in the breast tissue. They can be hard or soft, painful or painless, and can occur in only one breast or both breasts.

Causes of Breast Lumps

  • Plugged milk ducts: A blocked milk duct can cause a lump in a lactating breast. This can occur when milk is not properly drained.

  • Mastitis: When a duct gets obstructed, the milk builds up behind it, causing a lump and often inflammation in the breast. This breast inflammation can cause discomfort and, if not treated quickly, can escalate into a more serious condition known as mastitis. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue resulting in pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. Symptoms of mastitis, such as fever and chills, can appear suddenly, putting breastfeeding women at a higher risk. Some moms struggle when mastitis occurs and feel that they should stop breastfeeding but the general advice is to continue especially on the affected side as this can really help relieve the blocked duct and ease the symptoms.

  • Breast abscess: In severe cases, an abscess could develop. This is a pocket of pus requiring medical drainage, and it’s crucial not to attempt to massage or manage an abscess at home.

  • Galactoceles: A galactocele is a milk-filled cyst that can cause a breast lump.

  • Breast cancer: Breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast tissue. However, most breast lumps are not cancerous.

  • Benign breast conditions: There are many benign breast conditions that can cause lumps in breasts, including fibroadenomas, cysts, and papillomas.

  • Lymphedema: Lymphedema is a swelling of the breast that can occur after surgery or radiation therapy for breast cancer.

  • Stretch marks: Stretch marks can cause lumps or ridges.

  • Swollen lymph nodes: Swollen lymph nodes can cause a lump in the breast tissue. However, this is rare.


It is important to note that breast lumps can be caused by a variety of factors. If you notice a lump in your breast, it is important to see your healthcare provider to determine the cause. Your healthcare provider may recommend a mammogram or other imaging tests to further evaluate the lump.

Symptoms of Breast Lumps

  • A tender or painful lump in the breast

  • A sore breast or tenderness in the affected breast

  • Firmness or swelling in the breast

  • A new lump in the breast

  • Redness or warmth in the affected area

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms

Breastfeeding and Breast Lumps

Breastfeeding and Breast Milk Production

Breast milk production is a supply-and-demand process. The more a baby nurses, the more milk is produced.

However, if the breast is not emptied completely during feeding, milk can build up and cause a clogged duct. This clogged duct can lead to a breast lump that can be painful and uncomfortable.

Breastfeeding and Latching

Proper latching is essential for breastfeeding success. If a baby is not latching correctly, the milk duct and breast may not be emptied completely, which can lead to milk build-up and clogged ducts.

It is important to seek help from a lactation consultant if you are having difficulty with latching.

Some babies are born with a condition called laryngomalacia which can make establishing a good latch especially challenging – learn more about this condition here.

Breastfeeding and Engorgement

Engorgement occurs when the breast becomes overly full and swollen with too much milk. This can be very uncomfortable! To relieve engorgement, try taking a hot shower or using a breast pump to express milk. You can then give your baby your breast milk via a bottle.

Preventing Breast Lumps


Breastfeeding is the most effective way to prevent clogged milk ducts. Regular breastfeeding helps to stimulate milk production and prevent engorgement, which can lead to plugged ducts.

Breast Care

  • Wear a properly fitting bra: A breast-feeding bra that is too tight or too loose can put pressure on the breasts and lead to blocked ducts.

  • Massage your breasts: Regular breast massage can help to improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which can reduce the risk of a plugged duct.

  • Apply heat: Applying a warm compress to the breasts before breastfeeding can help to improve milk flow and prevent engorgement.

  • Apply cold: Applying a cold compress to the breasts after breastfeeding can help to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Healthy Lifestyle

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to keep breast tissue healthy and reduce the risk of clogged milk ducts.

  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to reduce the risk of toxins building up.

  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help to improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage.

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking can reduce blood supply to breast tissue.

  • Manage stress: Stress can affect milk supply and increase the risk of lumps. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation or yoga, can help to reduce this risk.

When to See a Doctor

While breast lumps are common for breastfeeding women, it is important to know when to seek medical attention. Here are some signs and symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor:


One of the most common mastitis symptoms is a high fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or greater with a tender lump.

New Lumps

Throughout your breastfeeding journey you will undoubtedly feel various lumps in your breasts but if you are ever unsure then seek medical examination.

Changes in Scar Tissue

If you have had breast surgery in the past, it is important to monitor the area for any changes in scar tissue. If you notice any changes, such as a lump or thickening, make an appointment with your doctor.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

If you notice swollen lymph nodes under your arm, it could be a sign of breast cancer. Breast cancer can cause lymph nodes to swell as the cancer cells spread.


If you are due for a mammogram, make sure to schedule one. A mammogram is a screening test that can detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.

In general, it is important to trust your instincts. If you notice any changes in your breast, or if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, make an appointment with your doctor. Early detection is key when it comes to breast health.


Breastfeeding has its ups and downs, and dealing with clogged milk ducts or a sore lump can be tough. But remember, you’re not alone. Many women face these challenges, and there’s a wealth of treatments available, from breast massages and therapeutic ultrasound to specific breastfeeding medicine.

Whether it’s mastitis, clogged milk duct, nipple pain, or nipple blebs, getting the right help can turn things around. Always remember, it’s okay to seek help and explore your options.

You’ve got this!

Additional resources

To learn more about breast lumps while breastfeeding and how to manage them effectively, I encourage you to visit trusted and authoritative websites such as:

  1. Mayo Clinic – Breast Lumps:

  2. La Leche League International – Lumps and Breast Imaging:

  3. American Cancer Society – Breast Lumps and Benign Breast Conditions:

These resources provide comprehensive information, valuable insights, and guidance from reputable sources to help you navigate through this challenging but temporary phase of your breastfeeding journey.


Have Questions? I Have Answers.

You can manage hard lumps in your breast while breastfeeding by massaging the area gently, applying warm compresses, adjusting your breastfeeding position, and ensuring regular and effective milk removal through breastfeeding or pumping. If the lump persists, it’s important to seek medical advice.

To rub out a clogged milk duct, apply warm compresses to the area and then gently massage from the outer area of the lump towards the nipple while breastfeeding or pumping.

Hard lumps in the breast while breastfeeding are usually due to blocked or clogged milk ducts. This occurs when milk doesn’t flow properly and builds up, causing a lump.

Yes, you can massage a blocked milk duct. Using gentle pressure, massage from the lump towards the nipple during breastfeeding or pumping to help clear the blockage.

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