Questions and answers about breastfeeding pain

Ouch! Worried that breastfeeding will hurt? Learn more here.

Mom sits in bed while breastfeeding new baby

Q: I’ve heard my nipples will get very sore. What can be done to help?

A: The most common causes of sore nipples are incorrect positioning at the breast and difficulty latching. In order to avoid a bad latch, make sure baby is pulled in close to you with a wide open mouth. He/she should have as much of the areola in his/her mouth as possible.

It is very common to experience some discomfort right when baby latches on. This tenderness should decrease after the first 30 to 60 seconds. If the pain continues throughout the entire feeding, the latch needs to be readjusted. Instead of pulling baby off of your breast, put your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction. Remove your nipple from his/her mouth and try again. If nipple soreness lasts beyond the first week or is paired with cracking, bleeding or other damage, seek help from a lactation consultant.

Q: My breasts feel so full it hurts! What can I do?

A: Engorgement is another common cause of pain when breastfeeding. Engorgement often happens when your milk first “comes in.” Massaging your breasts before a feeding can make it easier for baby to latch. Nurse your baby very often (every two to three hours) and avoid skipping feedings or using supplemental bottles. Your body will adjust how much milk it makes and the engorgement should get better in a couple of days.

Q: What else can cause breast pain?

A: If your breasts are sore and you have flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, a hard or red area of the breast, or red streaks on your breast, you may have an infection in your milk ducts called mastitis. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor.

Sore breasts with a lump also may be a sign of a plugged milk duct. To help unclog the duct use a hot compress prior to pumping/feeding and use your hands to massage the plug out.

If you are experiencing strong pain in the breasts or nipples that doesn’t get better after properly latching on and positioning your baby, seek help from a lactation consultant.

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Posted In Children's, Health Information, Women's

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