breastfeeding and nipple pain
Babies, Feeding and caring

Breastfeeding and nipple pain: What are the causes and how long it last

Breastfeeding should not cause you nipple pain and that’s the fact. It can be uncomfortable at first but never painful. Breastfeeding is something that only a mother can do for her baby. It should be pleasant for both mother and baby but not painful. If it’s painful that means something is definitely wrong. It can be anything like baby is not latching properly, position is not right or any other reason. If your baby is latching properly and using proper position, you can experience little or no nipple soreness.

Breastfeeding can cause a discomfort at first and this discomfort should go in few weeks like 1 or 2 week. There is a difference between discomfort and pain and you should aware about it. Generally a healthy and full term baby knows how to latch properly and get commands on it within few days. If you experience slight tenderness after 3 to 5 days, that is completely normal. But if your nipples are sore, it may be a sign that something is wrong.

11 Causes of nipple pain when breastfeeding

Nipple pain or soreness is very common while breastfeeding. Some of the most common reasons of nipple pain are:

1.     Improper latching position:

Breastfeeding can sound easy but it’s not. It takes time to learn the technique for both mother and baby. An improper latch can cause you pain in nipple while breastfeeding. A bad latch can also cause bruise on nipple.

An improper latch happens when baby does not hold enough breast tissue or his tough is not positioned properly. Sometime baby is sucking only for comfort and not latching properly, can also be a reason of sore nipple.

There are few things that you can look for a proper latch like-

  • Make sure that baby open his mouth wide when you offer your breast.
  • If they are not latching well at first, pull them off and try again.
  • Don’t use nipple guards often, only use them temporarily.
  • Sometime babies latch nicely but slide down while nursing, make sure there is proper space between breast and baby nose. If it happens pull them off and start over again.
  • Take the help of any lactation consultant if it’s not going right.

2.     Unlatch properly

Babies latch very deeply on breast and no proper unlatching can also harm sensitive nipples. This can also be a reason of nipple pain while breastfeeding. If you unlatch baby, make sure to break the suction before pulling them off from breast. Removing them without breaking the suction can be painful also and cause you sore nipples.

3.     Improper breastfeeding positions

If your baby’s latch is good and still you are having pain, than an improper position can be a reason of this pain. There are many different breastfeeding positions which you can try according to you and your baby’s comfort.

You can try multiple positions and change position according to your need to help you with sore nipples. There are many accessories are also available like breastfeeding pillows, breast pads and many more which you can use according to your comfort.

Read here 13 tips on Brest feeding for first time moms


4.     Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement means breast are too full with milk. It happens during the early days of breastfeeding when your body tries to adjust your supply according to the need of baby. It can also happen if there is a long gap between two feeds. Engorged breast can hurt and make it difficult for baby to latch. You can use breast pump to extract some milk or gentle massage your breast or use a warm compress to reduce the engorgement before feeding your baby. It will be easier for your baby to latch and will not cause you any pain in nipples while breastfeeding.

5.     Clogged milk ducts

Your breast has milk ducts through which milk flows out the nipples. When one of the milk ducts is clogged, milk can back up and cause tenderness in breast. You can try warm compress to help the milk flow and make sure to empty your breast at each feeding. Different feeding position can also help you to stimulate all the milk ducts and help you to release clogged milk ducts.

6.     Thrush

Thrush is a type of yeast infection on your nipple. Your nipples get wet when you feed your baby which can cause this infection. This can pass between mother and baby and you should treat it as soon as possible. Nipple thrush can also be a reason of painful breastfeeding.

To prevent this you need to keep your nipple dry, wipe it with a clean towel after each feeding. You can also use breast pads and change them frequently.

Click here to know about 25 things you should not do with newborn

7.     Eczema

Eczema is a type of skin dermatitis which looks like a red or scaly rash. It can be anywhere on your body as well as nipples also. Eczema can also be a possible cause of painful nipple. Your doctor will provide you a treatment like creams and lotions for this and make sure to wipe it off before each feeding.

8.     Dry Skin

Dry or cracked nipples can cause you sore and tender nipples. Keep you nipple moisturized with a good moisturizer or you can apply your own breast milk to keep nipples soft. Breastmilk can be a great moisturizer for your dry or cracked nipple.

9.     Mastitis

Mastitis is known as an infection in your milk ducts which can cause you sore and tender breast. If you have other symptoms like fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, hard or red area of the breast, than there is a possibility that you can infection in your milk ducts.

This infection can be a reason of nipple pain while breastfeeding and should be treated with the prescribed medication. Call your doctor if you feel like you are having an infection and treat it as soon as possible.

10.      Tongue tie

Some newborn born with a condition called tongue-tie which restricts the motion of tongue. Tongue-tie can also cause nipple pain when you breastfeed because baby is unable to latch properly. If you think that tongue-tie can be a reason which preventing your baby from good latch, contact your doctor or lactation consultant to help you.  

11.     Shape of nipple

If you have a flat or inverted nipples, it can be difficult for your baby to hold your breast in his mouth and latch properly. There are some exercises which can help you to draw the nipple out or you can use nipple shields for some time for a good latch.

How long does nipple pain lasts.

Duration of pain completely depends on the reason of pain. Generally nipple pain peeks around 3rf or 4th day after birth but then starts subsiding and should go away in 2 to 3 weeks. But be sure your baby is latching properly; your holding position is correct and comfortable for both of you to experience a smooth breastfeeding journey.

Should you continue breastfeeding with nipple pain

Yes, of course. There is no reason to say no to breastfeeding in pain. Actually, continue breastfeeding will help you to ease your pain or any type of infection. Try to nurse on both sides equally. Some women nurse frequently for a shorter period of time rather than nurse for an extended period of time. This trick can also be helpful for you to ease out your pain.

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