Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding

image001 Most women who nurse their babies often experience pain while breastfeeding or extracting milk. Engorgement should not usually persist past a week after your baby is born, though soreness can still be a problem. This can further be aggravated if your baby feeds vigorously. However, this problem may be solved with a few preventive methods.

Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding—Is It Normal?

While sore nipples are ordinary when your baby first latches onto your breast, they should not last throughout the entire feeding session. Sometimes, taking painkillers to dull the immediate effects of delivery can also bring about tenderness in your breasts.

Schedule an appointment with your lactation consultant immediately after you first experience this kind of pain. Never ignore this discomfort or assume that it is normal, as it may develop serious complications. Your nipples might crack or even bleed, making breastfeeding extremely painful and compromising the health of both you and your baby.

What Causes Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding?




Latching difficulty

If your baby tries to tug on your breast, he will end up pinching it against his hard palate, making it uncomfortable for you. When this happens, push your finger through his lips and on his tongue, then pull away. Train him to open his mouth wide enough for your nipple to reach the soft palate near the back of his mouth.

If your nipples start cracking and bleeding, apply purified lanolin ointment. Do not clean it off before nursing.


This limits your baby’s control over his tongue and is characterized by the attachment of his tongue to the bottom portion of his mouth. He will be unable to keep a firm latch on your nipple and will constantly slip off. This can be painful for you.

Tongue-tie will also compromise your baby’s health, as he will need to be fed more often, yet still be unable to gain weight properly. Nonetheless, it can be quickly remedied with a frenulotomy.

Fungal infection

A thrush may develop on your nipples when naturally-occurring organisms spread through your body uncontrollably. Your breasts will suddenly become sore or experience a shooting, burning, or stabbing sensation, even if you do not normally feel pain while breastfeeding.

It is highly likely that the thrush infection has also transferred to your baby’s mouth. Both his infection and yours may be treated with an antifungal medication, but until you consult your doctor, stop breastfeeding as this will only cause the fungus to spread further.

Raynaud's Disease

It causes your nipple to feel burning and shooting sensations or become white in cold environments. The spasm of muscles in the walls of your arteries forces them to turn narrower and interrupts the flow of blood to your body. While symptoms of this disease are usually manifested in extremities, they may also appear in your nipples when you breastfeed.

To lessen the effects of Raynaud’s, breastfeed in warmer temperatures, take warm showers, and wear warm flannel while nursing. Also, exercise regularly and lessen your sources of stress.

Skin problem

If you are experiencing itching and inflammation around your nipple area, you may have contracted a skin condition such as dermatitis or eczema. These irritations may be caused by several factors, such as using cosmetic products like soaps, lotions, and creams that have harsh chemicals. Contact with chlorinated water while you swim can also cause soreness and itch.

Try washing your breasts with clean water to subdue any discomfort, and get in touch with your doctor if your condition persists.


Your baby will alter his feeding habits when he starts teething. He might not use his tongue to support him while he feeds, forcing him to bite your nipple to get a firm and secure latch, instead.

Teach your baby to keep his tongue forward while feeding. Touch his lips to your nipple, then quickly transfer him onto your full breast. If your baby is a little older, make sure he does not remove his tongue even after he has latched onto you.

Bra/Breast pad problems

The fit of your nursing bra may also have something to do with your discomfort. If it feels too tight, it will apply excessive pressure on your breasts, causing unnecessary pain.

Opt for bras a size or two bigger to remedy your problem. In addition, make sure that they have linings made of natural materials. Plastic linings and pads prevent your skin from breathing properly, trapping excess moisture and irritating your breasts. Healing pads are also available in case your nipples begin cracking or bleeding.

Pregnant and breastfeeding

Getting pregnant again while you are still breastfeeding may also be another cause for your sore nipples. There is no specific time period as to when the soreness may occur. It is possible that it will take place only during the first few days or weeks of your next pregnancy, or it may also appear during your last trimester, shortly before you are scheduled to give birth again.

If you start experiencing extreme discomfort, you can apply purified lanolin ointment to help ease your pain.

How to Soothe Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding

  • Wash your nipples with clean water only once a day.
  • Warm your nipples after nursing with a hair dryer. Use a low setting.
  • Apply small quantities of ointment after breastfeeding. Do not wash off.
  • If your baby has no problems with his weight gain, try feeding him with only one breast instead of two. Otherwise, use a lactation aid to complement expressed milk.
  • Expose your nipples to air as much as you can. When this is not possible, wear plastic breast shells to prevent your clothing from rubbing against your nipples. Do not mistake breast shells for nipple shields.
  • If your discomfort persists, stop nursing your baby directly from your breasts for at least three days to allow them to recover. During this period, give your baby expressed milk but avoid using a rubber nipple. Instead, use the finger feeding or cup feeding technique.
  • Stay away from nipple shields as they usually prove to be useless, or even significantly reduce the amount of milk you produce.

Want to see how to soothe sore nipples? Check out the video below:

Will Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding Affect My Baby?

Though painful for you, sore nipples do not directly affect your baby’s health. Nonetheless, they usually signal that something is wrong with your breastfeeding process. Watch out for signs that indicate your baby is not feeding properly:

  • inadequate weight gain
  • clicking noises during feeding
  • unsettled demeanor after feeding
  • frequent and extensive feeding sessions

There is also a chance that he cannot latch onto your breast properly, preventing him from drinking hind milk rich in calories, which is expressed at the end of each session.

If you want to know how to avoid sore nipples from breastfeeding, you can watch the video below:

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