Can your bra cause plugged ducts?

I have been successfully nursing my five-month-old son from birth. The only trouble that I have run into in the course of nursing him is a persistent plugged duct in my right nipple. I have done everything, but the only thing that has seemed to help is not wearing ANY bra. Can my bra really be causing plugged ducts?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

I'm sorry to hear you've suffered from persistent plugged ducts. They can be very painful! Some nursing moms do seem to be more prone to plugged ducts than others. Plugged ducts may also be more common when a mother has a very abundant milk supply.

A constrictive bra can definitely play a part in recurrent plugged ducts. Since you find that you are able to reduce the occurrence of plugged ducts when you go braless, for the time being it seems wise to go without a bra when at home.

When you feel you need some support, especially when going out, how about trying a loose sports bra -- a size or two larger than you would normally buy. You can nurse by lifting up from the bottom. If it feels at all snug when pulled up to nurse you'll need to try a larger size. Another option is wearing a snug T-shirt that gently supports your breasts without binding.

During lactation, as at any other time in a woman's life, it is important to seek prompt evaluation of worrisome breast changes. Though lactating breasts do have a tendency to be lumpy, any changes should be brought to the immediate attention of your Health Care Provider (HCP). It is also important to seek prompt evaluation by your HCP if you are unable to resolve a plugged duct with self-treatment, if you notice a reddened, warm area on your breast, or develop a fever or flu-like symptoms that are not improving within 24 hours. My best wishes!

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