Managing nipple pain while breastfeeding and pumping

Many parents experience nipple pain when breastfeeding or pumping during their postpartum journey. The truth is breastfeeding and pumping shouldn’t hurt. If it does, there is usually a cause that can be corrected. If you are experiencing pain during feeding or pumping, reach out to consult an IBCLC right away. There’s no need to suffer!

If you are wondering what the causes of nipple pain during breastfeeding or pumping are and how to prevent it, you are in the right place! We are here to explain some common causes of nipple pain during breastfeeding or pumping, how to manage it, and to know when to reach out for support.

Causes of Nipple Pain During Pumping or Breastfeeding

Before delving into how to manage nipple pain during breastfeeding or pumping, it’s important to understand what causes it. Some of the most common reasons include the following:

  • Poor latching, which may result in cracked nipples
  • Your breasts may not be in the proper feeding position
  • Your baby has thrush, a yeast infection found in the mouth
  • Your flange size is not an ideal fit for your nipple
  • Dry nipple skin due to using harsh soaps or scrubbing your breasts too hard
  • Your body is still adapting to pumping or breastfeeding
  • Your baby is going through teething

Tips for Nipple Pain Relief

Keep Changing Breastfeeding Positions

Among the most common causes of nipple pain during breastfeeding is poor latching. Both you and your baby should be comfortable while feeding. So, if you are experiencing nipple pain as you feed your baby, alter their position to enable them to latch correctly while also emptying your milk ducts fully. If you’re unsure if your latch is right, reach out, and one of our IBCLCs can help evaluate!

For instance, you could try a football for a few minutes and cradle hold for the next few minutes to prevent nipple pain and cracking. In addition, you could also try our 911 nipple rescue kit, which we swear by when it comes to achieving fantastic latching. Reach out for a purchase.

Use a Warm Compress

Before nursing, placing a warm compress on your nipples will help soothe your areola and encourage milk letdown. After breastfeeding, place a cold compress or cooling inserts in your bra to alleviate pain in each breast. You can also use a massager to help loosen any clogs and move the milk. If you don’t have one handy, the head of an electric toothbrush is a great stand-in!

Gently Soothe Your Engorged Breasts

During the first days of breastfeeding or pumping, it is expected to have engorged breasts, which can be painful. Instead of breastfeeding your baby or pumping immediately, gently soothe your breasts with your hand to express some milk and soften them. Not only will this prevent nipple pain, but it will also save you from cracked or sore nipples. You could also use a breast massager or a breast pump before feeding to stimulate milk letdown and relieve the breasts. Breastfeeding or pumping more often also helps in reducing breast engorgement and nipple pain relief.

Find the Correct Flange Size

Another common reason for nipple pain is using an incorrect flange while pumping. Luckily, there are different flange sizes, ensuring that all breast sizes can find a proper size. Consult a pumping expert to help you find the appropriate flange size for your breast. It is worth noting that the correct flange size significantly contributes to your milk supply and comfort. For more information on flange style and size, contact us for help or to schedule a flange fitting consult.

Lubricate Your Breasts While Pumping

Another helpful tip to prevent nipple pain while pumping is using a lubricant to reduce friction. We carry many different lubricants that we suggest that will help to make the pumping process and make it more comfortable and pain-free.

How to Tell if You Have Mastitis

Mastitis refers to an inflammation or redness of the breast that may result in an infection, pain, swelling, and tenderness. Those diagnosed with Mastitis also have flu-like symptoms, including fever and a runny nose. If you suspect you have Mastitis, contact one of our IBCLCs or your doctor/provider for help diagnosing and managing it.

Get Help for Nipple Pain

If your nipples do not stop being painful over time, it is best to consult our IBCLC professionals. We are available throughout Puget Sound for in-person and virtual consultations. Our experts also provide breast pumping, breastfeeding classes, and support in West Seattle, Tukwila, and Poulsbo. Contact us and schedule a virtual consultation for more information.