Top 3 Causes Of Nipple Pain While Breastfeeding

June 01, 2021

Top 3 Causes Of Nipple Pain While Breastfeeding

Nipple pain is one of the most common concerns for breastfeeding families. Many ask “Will breastfeeding hurt?” and the answer is… it shouldn’t. Breastfeeding in general should be pain-free, but if you are experiencing some discomfort there are some steps to improve your nursing relationship. 

  1. Checking the baby’s latch. A large mouthful of breast will always be more comfortable than a shallow, nipple-only attachment. 
  • Try the “Flipple technique”. Bringing baby’s chin into the breast first, mother points her nipple up to baby’s nose, baby opens their mouth and the breast and nipple roll in. How to Flipple video link! 
  • Try “Laid back breastfeeding”. Recline in a supportive place, not flat but comfortably laying back. Your head and shoulders should be well supported with a pillow. Baby’s full weight should be on your front, their chest on your tummy. Baby’s cheek can rest somewhere near your breast. When the baby is ready to breastfeed, allow pause for self attachment or help as you wish. Then rest and enjoy the snuggles! (This is the perfect time for skin-to-skin with baby!)
  1. Watch for dry or cracked skin. Splitting skin can be uncomfortable… especially on nipples. In the newborn stage, cracking can be common. Working on a deep latch can help significantly but there are ways to support healing in between feedings too. 
  • Express a few drops of breastmilk and apply it to the nipple then allow it to air dry. Your amazing breast milk has properties that promote skin healing.
  • Apply a mild, food-grade oil such as coconut, olive or grapeseed oils can provide some moisturization that doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding baby.
  • Keep your bras and shirts dry. Bacteria love warm, moist environments and thrive there. So that wet nursing pad needs to be changed out for a dry one ASAP. Thrush is not fun.
  • Pumping with the wrong size flanges. Did you know most breast pump users will fluctuate between sizes? Breast pump flanges aren’t “one size fits all” and the correct fit can make all the difference in draining the breast well and comfort. A flange that is too small can create unnecessary irritation on the nipples, and a flange that is too big won’t create the right vacuum pressure for milk extraction. Here’s a helpful link to find your unique measurements. 

  • While nipple pain is a common concern it doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your breastfeeding journey. If you are experiencing issues beyond these suggestions, please contact your local IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). You can find a listing of lactation providers for your area here and here. They can give you personalized care and support. You and baby can reach your nursing goals!


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