The breasts are prone to soreness, itchiness, and pain during the first few weeks of the breastfeeding phase. And that’s perfectly normal. However, this initial tenderness and breast pain during breastfeeding is typically felt during the first few weeks only, after which it goes away.
11 Possible Nipple Pain Reasons During The Breastfeeding Stage
Let’s explore the possible nipple pain reasons here.
1. Adjusting Stage
You’ve just had a baby and are expected to breastfeed. The widespread changes that have come over your body include breast soreness, itchiness, and pain, among various other symptoms in the breasts. Breastfeeding at this time feels like a challenge until your body gradually adjusts itself to childbirth and the lactation process.
2. Improper Latching
Learn to latch your baby to your nipples because, without it, his/her mouth is likely to chaff against the skin, causing soreness. This is most likely to cause breast pain during breastfeeding.
3. Milk Blister
This can be defined as a white spot on or around your nipple. It comprises milk of a thickened consistency or the blocking of the skin by an overgrown milk duct, causing milk duct.
Unlike a milk blister, a blister can be caused by friction, arising from an improper latch a breast pump that uncomfortably rubs against the skin, or an ill-fitting nipple shield.
5. Flat / Inverted Nipples
Compress the areola or the dark patch around your nipple about an inch behind the nipple to see if it hardens slightly and becomes erect. If it does, you have a flat nipple condition. If your nipple retracts when you compress the areola, you probably have an inverted nipple. A flat nipple as well as an inverted nipple can prevent a proper latch while lactating, leading to breastfeeding pain.
In case your baby’s tongue cannot reach beyond the tongue on crying or the tongue resembles the shape of a heart, the condition could be because of the tongue, medically known as the frenulum. A short or restricted tongue-tie prevents a proper latch, which can give rise to nipple pain.
7. Not Breaking The Suction After Breastfeeding
Not breaking the suction during the time of removing the baby from your breast after breastfeeding is likely to cause discomfort and pain in the nipples. Apart, it can also damage breast tissue and your nipples.
8. Soaps & Shower Gels
The dry nature of soaps and shower gels also tends to irritate the breasts, causing pain, itching, and soreness. One of the most common nipple pain reasons.
Some women experience pain arising from the nipples to the inside of the breast. This may happen due to the constriction of blood vessels in the breasts is referred to as vasospasm.
10. Thrush Infection
This contagious yeast infection can affect your nipples, leading to pain. You will know your baby has got the thrush from you if he/she has yellowish or whitish patches on his/her mouth or lips or has cracked skin at the corner of the mouth. Similar symptoms will also be experienced by you in the form of cracked nipples and stinging pain in breast breastfeeding.
The infection can happen when a blocked milk duct prevents milk from seeping out of your breasts. Hence, milk gets retained in your breasts, causing your breasts to swell up and cause pain. This condition may be accompanied by other symptoms like a hard lump in the breast, flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches, and red streaks on your breast.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed With Sore Nipples?
- Yes, it is safe for you to breastfeed your baby despite sore nipples, unless your doctor advises you otherwise.
- Continuation of breastfeeding is necessary to prevent nipple pain during breastfeeding and your breasts from producing less milk.
- You can use a breast pump to accumulate the milk your breast has produced rather than stop feeding your baby because of breast pain.
- You should also continue lactating even if you have an infection like mastitis.
10 Tips For Preventing Nipple Pain When You’re Breastfeeding
Here are some preventive tips and remedies for breast pain during breastfeeding as well as before and after it.
- Take care of the skin around your breasts and nipples even before the birth of your baby.
- Wash your nipples after feeding and allow them to air dry. After the nipple has dried up, apply a nipple cream or moisturiser that has been recommended by your doctor, to soothe the area and prevent cracking and chaffing.
- Gel pads can be a saviour as the cool silicon on one side and fabric on the other prevent friction against your clothing. Apply a gel pad between feeds to allow your sore nipples to heal.
- Nipple shields are especially helpful when you have inverted or flat nipples, or your nipples are damaged. However, these may act as a barrier to the flow of milk between you and your baby or may cause mastitis or milk blisters. Hence, you need to check with your doctor on whether nipple shields are suitable for you before going ahead with it.
- Breast shields may come in handy in between feeds when your nipples are chaffed, aiding in controlling nipple pain during breastfeeding.
- They also help prevent your milk from wetting your shirt. Nursing pads, on the other hand, specialise in controlling the chances of developing thrush. However, make sure to clean your breasts and air dry between changing into a fresh one.
- If your breasts are extremely sore and you would prefer giving them time to heal, switch over to a breast pump or hand expression for the time being.
- Massage your breasts to relieve sore nipples, clogged milk ducts, and infections like mastitis. Doing so may also help heal milk blisters. Take the help of your doctor to know how you can give your breasts a good massage.
- Change up breastfeeding positions to understand what works for you and your baby.
- Apply a warm cloth to improve your milk flow before breastfeeding and move over to cool compresses to reduce pain and swelling.
- Make sure that you wear a loose-fitted bra and clothes to prevent restricting milk flow. Tight clothes may block milk ducts, causing pain and infections. A moist environment can also lead to the development of thrush.
When Should You See The Doctor?
Breast tenderness, pain, itching, and soreness are often a reality during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. However, you may need to see the doctor if the symptoms prolong beyond the first few weeks because it might be due to an underlying medical condition.
Breastfeeding is a wholesome experience that creates a beautiful bond between you and your newborn. However, there might be a few challenges that you may face during the process like nipple pain and chaffing. However, worry not, these can be easily overcome if you implement the preventive tips that we just discussed above. Consult a doctor and find out the best preventive tips and remedies for breast pain during breastfeeding as well as before and after it. You may also ask for breastfeeding pain relief home remedies and make lactation a memorable experience for you.
Open up like never before and participate in conversations about beauty, mental health, menstrual & sexual health, and more. Desi women, join our community NOW!