Overcoming Breast Pain While Breastfeeding: Strategies That Work

Breast pain and Breastfeeding

Breast pain while breastfeeding is regular, and about 75% of women experience pain, even during the first 2 weeks of postpartum.

Some women also experience nipple pain, which mainly occurs due to the mom stopping exclusive breastfeeding (1) (2).

Breast pain is a common concern, which not only occurs during breastfeeding but is commonly seen in pregnancy, and premenstrual.

Breastfeeding is a great way to reduce severe illness in both mother and baby including:

  • Reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • promote healthy baby weight
  • increase mother and infant bond
  • reduce the risk of breast cancer
  • promote relaxation by releasing hormones that reduce stress, and promote health

Pain is not only one thing there are other issues like stress, which affects sleep, mood, and anger, that interfere with daily activity (3) (4)

Individual women describe different sensations like tingling, breast pain, shooting, sharpness, and nipple irritation pain while feeding.

If the mother is having difficulty in releasing milk, and feel pain while breastfeeding, then they should talk to their doctor.

Why Does Breast Pain Occur while and After Breastfeeding?

Women between the ages of 15 to 45 years old are more likely to experience it due to hormonal and breast tissue changes (5)

Breast pain may occur in sharp, shooting, and sting types, what you feel after and during breastfeeding, should consult the doctor.

There are several reasons for breast pain while and after breastfeeding including:

Blocked milk ducts

It is the most common concern in lactating mothers, and about 2 to 3rd of women experience blocked ducts (6).

The common signs that may occur during block milk ducts, and if you experience severe pain, then should consult the doctor are:

  • Discomfort and pain during feeding
  • Slower milk flow
  • fever or feeling hot in the breast affect area
  • Pain or pain during letdown
  • A swollen or tender lump in the breast
  • Chills
  • Redness
  • A small white dot on the nipple called a milk bleb
  • The baby may become fussy when feeding from the affected area
  • Slower milk flow
  • A lump in the affected breast area


If it same it will progress to mastitis (an infection that occurs in lactating women), which generally occurs first few months of feeding.

In this bacteria enter the breast tissue through the nipple, or breast wound, which leads to breast pain, redness, breast engorgement, etc.

But Is breastfeeding safe if I have mastitis? In most cases, it is safe, In fact, frequent feeding can also resolve other breast-related issues (7)

Breast Engorgement

It is refer to increase breast size, tightness, and swelling, which is common 3 to 5 days after birth (8)

But why this happens? due to excessive milk production in the breast, but it can be relieved by breastfeeding, which helps empty the milk.


Sometimes babies have thrush infections in their mouth, which enter into your breast through breast wounds or nipples (9)

But why this thrush occurs in a baby’s mouth? it passes through the mother’s nipples to the baby and looks like white cottage cheese.

Not Breastfeeding

Some new mothers avoid breastfeeding to fear pain, which is a big mistake, that leads to breast enlargement, and results in pain.

However, breastfeeding too frequently can also lead to nipple pain (10)

Breastfeeding Positions

Poor positions during breastfeeding may cause uncomfortable for both mother and infant.

The study, results showed that improving lactating positions can resolve about 65% of uncomfortable breast pain

Some studies show that the position of breastfeeding is also vital, where proper position and attachment reduce the breastfeeding issue (11) (12).

If you experience severe pain or uncomfortable, then you should talk to your doctor, it may be some other breast-related issue.

Other Causes of Breast Pain

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • any breast surgery
  • breast cancer might be a reason
  • if you are on medicines, then medication side effect leads to breast pain
  • breast injury
  • a too-tight or loose bra
  • some medical condition
  • excessive alcohol, caffeine, and smoking intake

Treatments and Remedies For Breast Pain while Breastfeeding?

First, the doctor will diagnose, then the doctor will consider treatment according to your cause of breast pain.

There are several treatments for breast pain while breastfeeding which include:

1. OTC medicines: There are several OTC medicines, but make sure to talk to your doctor first, they will recommend you prescribed medicine.

The doctor may recommend pain relief medicine, but make sure to drink enough water with the medicine to prevent dehydration.

2. Antibiotics: If breast pain is caused by an infection, then the doctor will tell you some prescribed antibiotics, which kill the infection-causing bacteria.

If you have an allergy or are already on medication, then talk to your doctor, they will change or minimize the dose of medicine.

3. Rest: Take proper rest through sleeping, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and other relaxation techniques.

4. Cabbage leaves: It is a commonly used natural remedy that reduces breast pain while breastfeeding.

According to an NCBI study shown that cabbage leaves can help in breast engorgement, resulting in a reduction in breast pain.

But how does cabbage leaves help? it has anti-inflammatory agents, just remember to wash the leaves before applying.

Which will promote overall health like increase milk production, reducing stress, and making the mother and infant’s emotional bond strong.

5. Hot and cold compresses: Hot water compresses improve circulation, milk flow, and healing, which reduce sensitivity and discomfort.

Cold compresses reduce swelling, which will contribute in reduce inflammation, and alleviate breast pain and discomfort (13)

6. Proper latching: In this baby, the proper latching or mouth-to-nipple connection is essential, which reduces several breast issues.

To do proper latching make sure you will follow these guidelines include:

  • Proper body position and baby mouth position should be correct
  • baby’s nose and chin should touch your breast
  • if you feel sucking, then it means the baby consuming milk

If you are still unable to feed your infant, then should talk to your healthcare provider, and consult other mothers (14)

7. Do breastfeeding: In some cases, not doing frequent breastfeeding also leads to several breast issues like engorgement, redness, etc.

So try to do frequent breastfeeding, which will breast reduce swelling, and sensitivity, and reduce the size of breasts.

8. Use essential oil: Essential oil aroma can help in the production of milk secretion, and use it as a gentle massage.

Remember EO are highly concentrated so first take a skin patch test and dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil.

EO is made from direct plant seeds, flowers, and roots, which makes it highly concentrated.

In addition, some EO is safe during pregnancy, and periods, just make sure to consult your doctor, before applying any new therapy.

Prevention of Breast Pain During Breastfeeding

There are several ways to prevent breast pain during breastfeeding are:

  • Practice frequent breastfeeding (15)
  • if breastfeeding is not enough to extract milk, then empty the breast milk on your own, just make sure the baby getting enough milk.
  • feeding positions is also vital
  • to use breastfeeding gadgets like breast pump that prevents nipple irritation and soreness.
  • avoid unsupportive, tight, and underwire bras (16)
  • maintain breast hygiene to prevent infections like mastitis, which enhances the overall nursing experience.

Another way to prevent breast pain

  • make sure to drink enough water both during pregnancy and breastfeeding condition.
  • follow a good food plan, which is important for the health of both the mother and infants.
  • do exercise to reduce mental and physical stress like swimming, cycling, yoga, and other exercises.
  • ensure proper latch
  • maintain breast hygiene to prevent infections like mastitis, which enhances the overall nursing experience.
  • take a break, if you think it disturbs your overall well-being
  • use a hot water towel, and keep it on your breast that promotes milk production, reduces swelling, etc

When To seek medical help?

BP is the most common concern in various timelapse including during pregnancy, premenstrual, and breastfeeding due to hormonal imbalance.

But make sure if you experience:

  • If severe or frequent breast pain or discomfort then seek medical help
  • if you experience worse in your symptoms and no improvement
  • seen lumps, blocked milk ducts, and pus
  • any sign of infection, and redness in a specific area
  • fever or flu-like symptoms
  • if a baby has thrush in his mouth, it may lead to infection on the nipple (17)
  • talk to your doctor, if the baby’s weight is not increased, it may sign that baby not sucking enough milk
  • nipple bleeding or any other color discharge like dark yellow, green, and other

Down Line

Breast pain while breastfeeding is a common issue, even during pregnancy, and in premenstrual, talk to doctor if you experience pain.

To prevent nipple overall discomfort, make sure to do frequent breastfeeding, massage with essential oil, take prescribed medicines, etc

The most reason for breast pain is hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, periods, and breastfeeding.

If you feel frequent, severe pain and any discomfort in your breast, then seek medical help.


Hello, I'm Sahil bisht, I am a Mechanical engineer, As well as, aspiring blogger with an obsession for health. This blog delicate to people who want to learn in health.

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