Breastfeeding Problems: A Clogged Nipple What?

Published by Bert A. on

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What is a Clogged Nipple Pore_
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Once upon a time when my middle child was still an infant and I was nursing her exclusively, I noticed a persistent burning feeling whenever I wasn’t breastfeeding. It wasn’t the twinge that I usually feel in my nipples when my milk lets down; it was different. It was really painful. It felt like I was in the very early stages of breastfeeding. You remember those days filled with MotherLove Nipple Cream slathered on in between feedings to help heal your cracked nipples, don’t you? Then as soon as my daughter would latch on and start eating the pain would ease.

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Breastfeeding Problems: What is a clogged nipple pore and how can you fix it? Tips and resources on how to fix this common breastfeeding problem at home.

Photo courtesy of LOvB Photography

What is a clogged nipple?

If you haven’t experienced a clogged nipple pore you should be very thankful. If you have then you know what I’m talking about. And if you’re reading this and wondering if that pain you’re experiencing is a clogged nipple pore then by all means, please read on! A clogged nipple pore looks like a white pimple on your nipple. It’s not to be confused with a blood blister that is usually caused by friction from poor latching or positioning. It’s also not thrush, although it does resemble it. Thrush will not feel better after your baby has eaten; thrush burns. A clogged nipple pore will feel ten times better after nursing your baby or pumping.

 What causes a clogged nipple pore (aka milk blisters or blebs)?

 Clogged nipple pores (aka “milk blisters” or “blebs”) are usually caused by oversupply, pressure on your breast from a tight bra, changes in feeding schedules (baby skips feedings) and stress. If left unattended the clogged pore can lead to mastitis so it’s important that you take action to relieve the pressure. When left unattended a clogged pore can also reduce the milk supply in the affected breast. Prior to actually seeing the clogged pore, I always noticed a reduction of milk while pumping. Then the pain came, I knew what was happening with my milk supply – there was a plug somewhere inside of my nipple.
Breastfeeding Problems: What is a clogged nipple pore and how can you fix it? Tips and resources on how to fix this common breastfeeding problem at home.

How can you fix a clogged nipple pore?

So what can you do to fix a clogged nipple pore? It’s really rather simple. Apply a hot (don’t burn yourself though) damp compress to the breast to loosen things up. You can also use a cotton ball that’s been soaked with olive oil to help loosen the skin. Next you’ll want to apply a hot compress to your nipple before your baby nurses. After a few minutes, take the compress off and allow your baby to nurse. Be sure to nurse frequently as this will unclog the pore relieving the pressure.
A lactation consultant once told me that if I could see the bleb’s head (it’s hard and white) I could sterilize a needle or safety pin. To do that she suggested I light a match and hold the tip of the needle into the flame for a while until I knew it was hot. Then place the needle in rubbing alcohol soaking for ten to 15 minutes. One your needle is sterilized, lift the skin of the bleb with the sterilized needle. Do not pierce, lift. The goal is to not give yourself a nipple piercing; if you really want to do that go and find a reputable piercing studio. Moving the hard white substance from the nipple pore should relieve pressure immediately. Then your baby does the rest doing what they do best: nursing.
Our bodies are made wonderfully, don’t you think? Another way of treating a clogged nipple pore is to do the following: Fill a spray bottle with five drops of grapefruit seed extract, ¼ cup of white vinegar and two cups of water. Apply the solution to your breasts one a day. For more information I highly suggest checking out KellyMom. It’s a great resource for all things breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding Problems: What is a clogged nipple pore and how can you fix it? Tips and resources on how to fix this common breastfeeding problem at home.

Photo courtesy of LOvB Photography

 To recap it all:

  • Causes: Oversupply, nursing bra that is too tight against breasts, changes in baby’s feeding, and/or stress
  • Symptoms: Reduction in supply, burning sensation when not breastfeeding baby, relief once baby has latched on and is feeding.
  • Remedies: Hot compress applied to breast before feeding baby, allow baby to latch on properly and feed. Continue to do so until the head of the clogged pore can be seen. Sterilize needle or safety pin and gently lift the head. Allow baby to feed as usual.

Clogged nipple pores are a fairly common problem in breastfeeding and really should not be anything that you worry about. If you have more questions reach out to your doctor or lactation consultant.


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Bert A.

As the creator of the lifestyle blog and book, Me Before Mom, Bert supports millennial moms facing the challenges and changes of motherhood. Me Before Mom is an online community that offers support through real life stories, encouraging advice, and answers to questions about how a woman maintains herself during this self-sacrificial time of parenthood. Stories from Bert Anderson have helped women across the globe through the Huffington Post, Today’s Parent, and on the Harry show. Whether weathering the first year of motherhood or walking through the later stages of motherhood, Bert has helped many continue to find herself while still in the throes of motherhood. Purchase your copy of Me Before Mom: Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First today!


khennebaul · April 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm

These are spot on tips for a clogged duct! I have been breastfeeding for 16 months now and around 10 months I had a clogged duct! Sooooo extremely painful. To top it off I worked a 16hour shift,went to bed feeling like something was wrong with my one breast then waking up 5 hours later to do another 16 hr shift my breast was engorged and on fire!It was also so painful. Hot compresses really helped so much and I tried pumping at work every hour and massaging with the hot compress. about 8 hours into my shift I passed it and what a relief! After that moment I had prayed to never get those again. I wish I had known more about clogged ducts because it was so hard to deal with and I had no idea what to do.

Elishia Cowell · June 7, 2016 at 8:53 pm

We had some relatively minor issues a few times, usually due to a “nursing bra” with “flexible underwire”. yes, that was a waste of money!

    Bert @ First Time Mom MN · June 12, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    What does flexible underwire even mean? That sounds like it could’ve been painful!

      Elishia Cowell · June 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Such a marketing scam 🙁

        Bert @ First Time Mom MN · June 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        What do you mean a marketing scam?

          Elishia Cowell · June 14, 2016 at 9:55 pm

          Nursing bras with flexible underwire are being advertised as safe for nursing moms, with a tiny amount of fine print saying each person’s experience may be different. Every person I have talked with saying they tried one has had issues each time they have worn one. While there may be some women who’s ducts are not affected by a gentler underwire, it does not seem to be the case for most women, as the advertising leads to believe.

        Bert @ First Time Mom MN · June 14, 2016 at 8:39 pm

        Oh!! I’m so dumb! Flexible underwire!

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