Sore nipples while breastfeeding is a common concern, however, improper latching is the most common reason for a sore nipple.
Breastfeeding is vital for both mother’s and baby’s health, from promoting healthy baby weight to even reducing breast cancer risk.
Sore nipples are only one thing there are other issues like mental stress, which affects sleep, and mood, and interacts with your daily life (1) (2)
Breastfeeding also promotes relaxation by releasing hormones that reduce stress and promote health (3).
The most common challenge in breastfeeding is incorrect latching, where the baby is not properly attaching to nipples, resulting in soreness and even bleeding.
Breast pain is also a common issue in women, which is most common during pregnancy, and premenstrual time.
If you experience severe pain and discomfort in your breast, then consult your doctor, it might be some other breast-related issue (4)
Check – Treating Breast Pain During Pregnancy: From Discomfort to Relief
So in this article, we will describe the causes of sore nipples and breast pain, treatment, prevention, and more.
What Causes Sore Nipples while Breastfeeding
There are several reasons for sore nipples while breastfeeding which is uncomfortable for both mothers and infants including:
It is the most common reason for sore nipples, where the baby is not completely attached to the nipples, which creates friction b/w the nipple and lips.
As a result, nipple soreness, even overall breast pain, and bleeding also.
It can also create a problem as the baby grows in speech and feeding difficulty. but what is a tongue tie?
Tongue tie is a condition, where a baby has a thin, too-short tight tongue, which limits the tongue’s range of motion (5).
As a result difficulty in proper latching causes sore nipples and other breast-related issues, which also affect the baby’s health.
Sometimes babies have thrush infections in their mouth, which can enter your breast through breast sores or nipples (6)
Its looks like white cottage cheese in the baby’s mouth, then you should talk to your doctor, it may be an infection sign or other thing.
Breast engorgement is defined as an increase in breast size, tightness, and swelling, which is common 3 to 5 days after birth (7)
Why do these happen? because of excessive milk production, which leads to swollen breasts, resulting in overall breast pain.
So make sure to frequent breastfeeding which will help empty the milk, and reduces breast tightness, sore nipple, and pain.
It refers to swelling on the breast tissue, resulting in breast pain, and redness, and it common phenomenon in lactating women (8)
So talk to your doctor for proper appropriate treatment, because without treatment it may cause an early stop of breastfeeding (5) (6)
Research finds that by improving the breastfeeding position, roughly 65% of breast discomfort can be relieved.
Poor position leads to discomfort and pain for the mother and baby, so make sure to consult with your seniors or other mothers.
Other research indicates that proper breastfeeding is also crucial, where a good and comfortable feeding position can reduce breast issues (9) (10).
Other causes of sore nipples and breast pain
There are other causes of sore nipples which can be a reason for you while breastfeeding including:
- Hormonal imbalance, which may still be unbalanced in your case
- maybe your period is the reason for sore nipples and breast pain
- any injury and any previous surgery
- unsupportive bra, this reason has been found in many breastfeeding women’s
- any medical conditions that may interfere with your breast tissue
- if you are on any medicines period
- excessive caffeine intake and alcohol, and smoking should be avoided
So talk to your doctor who will help in finding your reason and recommend you proper treatment.
Other Breastfeeding Issues
Other several breastfeeding issues are become important to know such as:
- Low milk supply
- unusual nipple discharge
- blocked milk duct
- lumps on breast
- swelling, redness, and other discomforts
- any infections sign like red dots, fever, itching, and tenderness
If you face any breast-related issues, then seek your healthcare provider, because it may be any other illness sign.
Treatment of Sore Nipples During Breastfeeding
First, identify your reasons and then prescribe treatment according to your reasons, which is way better than doing several treatments.
After finding reasons, several treatments help with sore nipples during breastfeeding (11) including:
Expressing Milk: In this mother extract their milk through a manual breast pump or an electric breast pump, which will reduce breast engorgement, and sore nipple.
It also increases milk production, and it is the same as a baby drinking milk from the breast, as well as helpful in the early days of feeding.
Just make sure the baby getting enough milk.
Warm and Cold compresses: we have talked about this in our previous article, which is effective in reducing swelling, tightness, and sore nipples.
Take lukewarm water, put a towel in it, then apply it to your breast, which will reduce inflammation, as well as increase the low milk supply.
On other hand, cold pads or compresses reduce pain and discomfort by constricting blood vessels in the breast tissue.
Use Essential Oil, and Creams: It is an effective way, where oil properties help in reducing pain, inflammation, and more benfits.
Some EO is not good for breastfeeding women, so first take a small skin patch test, or talk to a doctor before applying any oil.
Prescribed creams are safe because they are prescribed for you by finding your reason for sore nipples.
Remember EO is highly concentrated so dilute or mixed it with carrier oil like coconut oil, and jojoba oil.
Pain Relieve: OTC medication, antibiotics, and pain relievers are effective in sore nipples, and overall breast pain while feeding.
Remember, taking non-prescribed medicines increases the risk of breast related-issue and other health issues for both mother and baby.
The doctor may recommend pain relief medicine, but make sure to drink enough water with the medicine to prevent dehydration.
Natural Remedies for Sore Nipples: There are several remedies for sore nipples while breastfeeding including:
- Cabbage leaves
- aloe vera gel
- chamomile tea
- coconut oil
It’s vital to speak with a doctor, or lactation consultant before using any natural remedies, because it may worsen the situation.
Prevention Tips for Sore Nipples During Breastfeeding
Prevention is the best way to prevent falling from sore nipples during breastfeeding and is key to managing other breast-related issues.
Here are effective prevention tips for both sore nipples and breast pain during breastfeeding (12) include:
- Make sure baby is properly connected with nipples (proper latching)
- good and comfortable posture or position which also makes latching easier.
- Use a nipple shield, that will reduce friction, and helps extract milk easily
- follow breast hygiene
- do frequent breastfeeding which helps in reducing breast engorgement
- use a hydrogel pad to prevent sore nipples
But how mother know the baby has a good latch? here is some sign of a good latch include:
- The mouth covers a large portion of the nipple
- the baby’s nose should have come out
- feel sunken and swallow
- chin and tongue will appear to close touch to breast
- comfortable feeding and sleep
Other Prevention Tips for Breast Pain While Breastfeeding
- Check your nutrition and keep yourself hydrated
- follow a good diet plan which will also help in making milk
- wear a supportive bra, and avoid wire bra
- take rest with meditation, yoga, and quality of sleep
- massage is a good way to increase circulation and decrease sore nipple sensitivity
When To Consult With Doctor?
Talk to your doctor If you experience
- Signs of infection talk to your doctor
- if you experience worse in your symptoms and no improvement
- signs of mastitis
- if a baby has thrush in his mouth, it may lead to infection on the nipple (13)
- frequent and severe pain, nipple discharge, and bleeding
- if you see that symptoms are getting worse and no improvement
- Seen medical help, if you see that baby’s weight is not increased, which may be a sign of proper latching.
Sore nipples while breastfeeding is a common concern, which occurs due to improper latching which is the most common reason for this.
But there are many ways to prevent both sore nipple and breast pain, like warm and cold compresses, seeking medical help, etc
Make sure to frequent breastfeeding, which prevents breast engorgement, and other breast-related issues.
Seek medical help, if you face severe pain, and discomfort while breastfeeding, which may affect your infant’s health.