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How can I Relieve Nipple Pain While Breastfeeding?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nipple pain while breastfeeding is a common problem for nursing mothers. Some of the most common issues that can lead to nipple pain while breastfeeding include sensitive nipples, improper positioning of the baby, or problems getting the baby to latch onto the nipple properly. A type of yeast infection known as thrush may also be to blame. Fortunately, there are several methods, such as learning proper latching and positioning techniques, that may ease nipple pain while breastfeeding.

Nipple sensitivity is the most commonly reported cause of nipple pain while breastfeeding, especially just after the baby is born. In the beginning, the nipples experience a lot of stimulation. This frequently causes sensitivity and discomfort when nursing or even when water from the shower hits the nipples. Fortunately, this type of sensitivity almost always goes away once the nipples toughen up a little. In the meantime, applying lanolin to the nipples may help to ease some of the discomfort.

Tenderness in the area of the nipple or the surrounding areola is a common source of nipple pain while breastfeeding. This often happens when the baby clamps down too hard when nursing. Applying an ice pack to the affected area may help to reduce the discomfort. It may also be helpful to take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Nipple pain while breastfeeding may include a sharp, shooting pain that begins in the breast and moves to the nipple. This is normally the natural let-down reflex when the milk moves into the nipple area. In most cases, this type of pain eases off during the next feeding or shortly thereafter. Over time, the discomfort caused by the let-down reflex often diminishes or goes away completely.

A type of yeast infection known as thrush is sometimes responsible for nipple pain while breastfeeding. Thrush can cause the nipple to appear bright pink or red, and the nipple may also itch or burn. Thrush often occurs if either the mother or the baby has recently taken an antibiotic. The baby may also develop a diaper rash when thrush is present. This condition typically requires a visit to the doctor, and additional medications may be given to both the mother and the baby.

Many women report that using a warm compress helps to ease nipple pain while breastfeeding. It is also important to make sure the baby is positioned properly when nursing. A doctor or lactation consultant can help teach the new mom about proper positioning techniques.

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Discussion Comments

By ZipLine — On Apr 03, 2013

@turquoise-- Is the pain in both breasts or one? If it's only in one, you might have a blocked milk duct. You should see your doctor if you feel that might be the cause.

The only time I had nipple pain was when my little one was teething. He would accidentally bite on my nipple while breastfeeding. My doctor gave me a great ointment that would relieve the pain and soreness.

By ysmina — On Apr 02, 2013

@turquoise-- It's normal to go through stages where breastfeeding is painful. I think your soreness is because you're still adjusting to it. I'm suspecting that the pain will reduce in the next few weeks.

If it doesn't, you might want to use a breast-pump instead. I have friends who also couldn't breastfeed because of the pain and chose to use a breast pump.

With my daughter, there were times when I had breastfeeding issues and I supplemented with formula. It's normal to need a break from breastfeeding sometimes!

By turquoise — On Apr 01, 2013

I just had my first baby and I'm experiencing a lot of pain while breastfeeding. I'm sure he's latching on correctly, I honestly don't know what the problem is. I'm bearing it but sometimes at night I wish I could take a break from breastfeeding so that my soreness reduces.

I've tried applying ice, but it's not helping.

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