Are you experiencing painful nipples?
If you are a breastfeeding mom, you'd probably reply yes, and you are not
While we talk a lot about the benefits of breast milk and how helpful it is
for mothers to feed their babies with this wonder food, we often forget
that breastfeeding has its challenges. Don't you agree?
If you end up suffering nipple pain, we're here to help.
Let’s investigate the common reasons for painful nipples and provide you
with solutions that align with your ache!
A study found that 38% of breastfeeding women
interviewed at 1 month postpartum reported persistent nipple pain.
It is very common for women to experience nipple pain in the first
few days of breastfeeding. In fact 90% of moms have some
nipple soreness which peaks on the 5th day of breastfeeding and
then resolve. This is due to nipple sensitivity.
What is nipple sensitivity?
This is a very common complaint early after delivery. You may feel pins and
needles, stinging, itching, burning, or a pain that is described as
stabbing, aching, sharp, or dull. Discomfort occurs as the baby latches on
and can last 20-30 seconds, which is normal.
TRUE! Nipple pain is the second most common
reason moms give for stopping breastfeeding before they reach
their goal. It is the most common reason moms stop before leaving the
hospital. Nipple pain also leads to early formula supplementation which is
associated with lower rates of breastfeeding at 6 months.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for nipple pain beyond
the first week and solutions for them so you can continue a pain free
Poor or Shallow Latch
Your baby's latch is how they take your breast into their mouth as they
feed. If your infant has a shallow latch, it can negatively impact
breastfeeding, including a lot of pain for you.
If a baby bottle feeds, he or she may use bottle-feeding techniques at the
breast, prompting a poor latch. This results in hurting nipples and
uncomfortable, even painful breastfeeding.
So if medically able, hold off on the bottle until you and your baby have
got breastfeeding established!
What causes pain during a poor or shallow
When the baby is latching well, the nipple dives deep into the infant's
mouth, right to the back where the soft palate is located.
The baby's tongue does most of the work in getting the milk out; if the
nipple isn't far enough back, the tongue will rub or push on the nipple or
the nipple can rub against the hard area in the roof of your babies mouth
(the hard palate) and cause pain.
If your infant can't latch on effectively because your nipples don't stand
out of your breast, have a go at pumping for a minute or two before you
start breastfeeding. The pull of a breast pump will draw out and extend the
nipples enough for your baby to latch on.
You can also take a stab at repositioning the baby. If you're nursing while
at the same time cradling the baby in your arms, you should hold the baby's
head in the crook of your arm, close to your elbow. Move the baby down a
couple of inches nearer to your wrist. This should set your baby in a place
where the lower lip can take in more of the underside of the nipple,
reducing the burn.
Keep trying to establish a good latch. If it
hurts...stop and retry. You and your baby will soon get the hang of it!
This happens when the blood vessels tighten and which reduces blood flow.
This pain is described as sharp, burning or stinging in the nipple. The
nipple may suddenly appear white followed by a change of color from red to
What causes the pain with nipple
It can be a response to nipple trauma perhaps from a poor latch. You may
experience pain after breastfeeding.
Pain from vasospasms not related to breastfeeds is more likely to be due to
Raynaud’s phenomenon, a similar symptom due to vasospasm of vessels in the
fingers or toes when exposed to cold.
Work on proper latch to avoid nipple trauma. Reduce exposure to air or
cold. You can apply a warm breast pad after breastfeeding to help or use
some olive oil and massage your nipples after nursing.
Otherwise known as milk let-down, the milk ejection reflex sensation is frequently experienced as a tingling sort of feeling. However, for a few, the sting is felt deep in the breasts and can hurt or be painful, especially when milk production is in overdrive.
Forceful Let-down-- If an excess of milk streams rapidly
out of your breast, it can cause pain during the ejection.
Engorgement-- If your breasts have become hard
and swollen, the milk ejection reflex can be more distressing.
Clogged Milk Ducts-- Milk that is caught in the
breast and can't get out will tell you that it's there and will
result in a painful let-down.
When this pain occurs because of an increased amount of milk, try feeding the infant longer on one specific breast and moving to the next if you need to. But if this does not help and the pain is increasing do speak to a lactation counselor or your healthcare provider. You may be encountering thrush or mastitis in your breasts.
Thrush is a yeast disease in your infant's mouth, which can spread to your
breasts. You'll see red patches on your breast, fire-engine-red nipples,
and sometimes flaky nipple skin. You may likewise encounter a tingling
sensation or deep, shooting breast pain.
If you experience pain in both breasts after a session of pain-free
breastfeeding, and the pain goes on for as long as an hour after a feed,
you may have thrush.
What Causes Thrush?
Thrush infection happens when your nipples become broken or cracked. This allows candida, the yeast that causes thrush, to get into your nipple or breast.
Thrush can likewise occur after you or your infant has had a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics may decrease the number of good bacteria in the body and allow the candida fungus that makes thrush thrive.
Your doctor will recommend an antifungal prescription to put on and in the infant's mouth. You and your baby must be treated simultaneously. Otherwise, you can easily pass the fungi back and forth, delaying the recovery. To keep the yeast contained, make sure to sanitize all pump parts that interact with your breasts.
Almost all breastfeeding moms experience pain or discomfort at some point
during their breastfeeding journey. If you have nipple pain, find the cause
and then you can look for a solution! Finding the correct fix will allow
you to meet your breastfeeding goals!
If you end up fearing each feed, gritting your teeth during each latch, or
suffering, it's essential to look for help from a lactation specialist or
your healthcare provider.
They can help you in sorting out what kind of solution is best for you.
Contact MaternalWell lactation specialists for a 1to 1 session or use our
text support for any general questions.