What to do if you have Breastfeeding Pain

What to do if you have Breastfeeding PainBreastfeeding pain can stem from a variety of causes, many of which are fairly typical and usually temporary. We’re exploring the most common causes of breastfeeding pain and what to do if you have breastfeeding pain.

When you envision your breastfeeding experience you probably see you and your baby enjoying loving moments in a bonding embrace. For many new moms, breastfeeding is that idyllic vision, but it may not start off that way.  Other moms breastfeed while facing several challenges throughout the journey, including breastfeeding pain, and still persevere.

Find out what to do if you have breastfeeding pain spawned by these common causes:

Sore Nipples

Topping the list of breastfeeding pain is sore nipples. It is normal for nipples to be sore for the first few days or weeks of breastfeeding as they get used to round-the-clock suckling. Proper latch and good breastfeeding positions are essential to avoid long term sore nipples. To get through this temporary pain, use 100% lanolin cream after breastfeeding or pumping, or rub breast milk on your nipples for quick nutrient-dense healing.

Uterine Cramps

You can expect uterine cramps after childbirth and they can be especially strong while breastfeeding. As your uterus shrinks back to its original size, you may feel menstrual-like cramping. Letdowns trigger this cramping and therefore help breastfeeding moms recover faster after childbirth.


Full breasts can be painful breasts. That’s why feeding regularly, usually every 2-3 hours in the first few months, is essential. Or, if your pediatrician approves, go with the tried and true feeding on-demand method so you let your baby decide when she needs a meal. If you feel your breasts getting full between feedings, pump until you are comfortable. Your body will likely regulate milk production to your baby’s needs after around 2 or 3 months.

Plugged Duct

Engorgement can lead to a plugged duct. That’s when milk is backed up in a duct and cannot flow freely to the nipple. It is often marked by severe acute pain, redness and heat. If you have a plugged duct, massage the area and use warm compresses to loosen the knot. Continue to breastfeed as well.


Mastitis is an infection in the breast that may occur during a plugged duct or due to bacteria introduced through the nipple. The signs of mastitis are similar to a plugged duct and may be accompanied by a fever and other flu-like symptoms. You can naturally treat mastitis similar to a plugged duct or you may need prescription medication. Be sure your doctor prescribes something compatible with continued breastfeeding.


Thrush is a yeast infection that you and your baby can pass back-and-forth from nipple to mouth. It is caused by an overgrowth of yeast. For you, thrush may lead to nipple soreness, sharp pain, a red rash or a shiny appearance to your breast. In your baby thrush is marked by white patches inside her mouth and general fussiness. To get rid of thrush you and your baby will likely need to take medication. It is highly transferable and can come back time and time again if not treated properly.

Painful Letdowns

Some mothers never feel their own letdowns while others feel a tingling sensation throughout their breasts. Sometimes letdowns cause shooting pain. This may be due to engorgement or an infection like mastitis or thrush. Try to determine the cause of this type of breastfeeding pain and then treat it accordingly. If painful letdowns continue for more than two weeks, consult your doctor or a lactation consultant.

Tongue or Lip Tie

If you’ve checked for several of the common causes of breastfeeding pain and you still can’t find relief, you may want to have your baby examined for a tongue tie or lip tie. Both conditions can make breastfeeding difficult and uncomfortable but both can be corrected fairly easily by a surgeon. A lactation consultant or your pediatrician can diagnose a tongue tie or lip tie.

Back and Wrist Pain

You’ve just come off three quarters of a year carrying around a lot of extra weight. Plus you’re doing a lot of lifting your baby out of cribs, car seats, cradles and such after a major medical experience, childbirth. A little back pain can be expected. But, sometimes back and wrist pain stem from poor breastfeeding positions. Support your baby with your entire arm whenever possible and always bring your baby to your breast rather than hunch over to deliver milk. To soothe back and wrist pain, relax as much as possible, apply heat and get a massage if you have the opportunity.

If you are experiencing breastfeeding pain, get the root of the issue in order to find relief so you can return to your visions of precious breastfeeding moments.

Sources: Today’s Parent, New Parent and Kid’s Health