Managing Pain In Breast While Breastfeeding

Understanding and Managing Pain in Breast While Breastfeeding
Understanding and Managing Pain in Breast While Breastfeeding

Embarking on the beautiful journey of breastfeeding brings immense joy and bonding, but it’s not without challenges. For many mothers, the experience includes moments of discomfort, particularly when pain arises in the breast. Understanding the reasons behind breast pain while breastfeeding is crucial for a smoother nursing experience.

In this blog, we delve into the various factors contributing to this discomfort, offering insights and practical tips to navigate through the challenges. Let’s unravel the mysteries surrounding breast pain during breastfeeding and empower mothers with the knowledge to enhance their breastfeeding journey.

Causes of Pain in Breast When Breastfeeding

Breast pain can cast a shadow over the joy of nursing, but understanding its roots can help address the issue effectively.

  • Breast Engrogement
  • Mastitis
  • Thrush

Breast Engorgement

Breast Engorgement Not Breastfeeding

Breast engorgement happens when your breasts get too full and feel hard, tight, and painful. This can occur when your milk first comes in or if your baby isn’t latching on well. When your breasts are engorged, it might be tough for your baby to drink milk.

Sometimes, your nipple might get a bit flat and sore. If this happens, don’t worry; help is available. Talk to your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding expert. They can guide you on how to relieve the engorgement and prevent it from happening again.

Remember, as you get better at positioning and attaching your baby while breastfeeding, engorgement can still happen when your baby hasn’t fed for a while. Look for cues like your baby moving their eyes, putting fingers in their mouth, or turning toward your breast. It’s good to feed them before they start crying. By staying close to your baby and watching their signs, you’ll both have a smoother feeding experience.

Relieving Breast Engorgement

To make breast engorgement feel better, apart from letting your baby feed, you can gently squeeze out a bit of milk by hand. But remember, only do this to feel less uncomfortable, as doing too much can make more milk.

Ask your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding expert to teach you how.

It might also help to:

  • Wear a good-fitting breastfeeding bra that doesn’t squeeze your breasts.
  • Use warm cloths on your breasts just before hand-expressing if milk is leaking.
  • Take some paracetamol or ibuprofen as advised to lessen the pain (these are safe while breastfeeding).

Staying close to your baby and noticing their signs of hunger will make feeding easier.

Excess Breast Milk

Sometimes, moms produce more milk than needed, making babies uncomfortable.

Ask your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding expert to observe a feeding session and offer solutions to manage it.

They can guide you on how to decrease your milk supply if necessary.

Blocked Milk Ducts

Milk glands in your breasts are shaped like orange parts, and small tubes carry milk to your nipple. A blockage might occur if a portion does not drain effectively during feeding due to a weak latch. You may notice a sore bump. Wear comfortable clothing to allow the milk to flow more easily. Activities that might be beneficial include:

  • Feed often from the blocked breast.
  • Warm clothes or a shower can assist milk flow.
  • During breastfeeding, gently massage the lump towards your nipple.

Act fast because if it is not resolved, it might escalate to mastitis, which is a more serious problem. If you have concerns, you should see your midwife or a breastfeeding professional.

Mastitis and its connection to Breast Pain

Mastitis happens when a blocked duct isn’t cleared, causing the breast to get sore and swollen. You might feel flu-like and really ill.

If mastitis isn’t dealt with early, it can turn into an infection and require antibiotics. Signs include a hot, tender breast, red skin, feeling sick or achy, and a high temperature.

Dealing with Mastitis

If you suspect a blocked duct or mastitis, remember to:

  • Keep breastfeeding.
  • Check how your baby latches. Ask an expert to watch.
  • Start with the sore breast when feeding.
  • Emptying breasts regularly to prevent infection
  • If it’s still full after, gently hand-express.
  • Warm things up with a flannel or a bath.
  • Rest and take pain relievers.
  • Contact your GP or NHS 111 if you don’t feel better in 12–24 hours.
  • Stopping breastfeeding makes things worse and might lead to a breast abscess.

Remember, you can take antibiotics safely while breastfeeding. Taking action early helps beat mastitis, keeping you and your baby healthy.

Self-care tips to prevent recurrence

Focus on boosting your immune system through a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and managing stress. Additionally, make sure you’re using proper breastfeeding techniques to minimize the risk of future occurrences.

What is Nipple Thrush?

Symptoms of Nipple Thrush
Symptoms of Nipple Thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida, can also contribute to breast pain. It occurs when improper hygiene allows the fungus to thrive, leading to nipple and breast pain. Identifying the symptoms and maintaining cleanliness can aid in overcoming this challenge.

Overcoming Thrush

Thrush can be frustrating, but a combination of hygiene and treatment can help you get back on track.

Nipple hygiene

Keep your nipples and breast area clean and dry. Change breast pads frequently and use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers.

Treatment options

Your doctor might prescribe antifungal creams for your nipples and oral medications for your baby if thrush is detected.

Treating both mother and baby to prevent reinfection

It’s crucial to treat both you and your baby, as thrush can pass back and forth between you. Make sure to follow the prescribed treatment regimen diligently.

Sanitizing clothing and accessories

Wash your bras, breast pads, and any other breastfeeding accessories regularly in hot water to prevent reinfection.

Types of Breast Pain

Breast pain manifests in various forms during breastfeeding, each indicating different underlying issues.

Sharp, shooting pain during letdown

A sudden, sharp pain during letdown can be alarming, often attributed to engorgement or forceful milk ejection. It’s essential to address the causes and ensure proper milk flow.

Continuous dull ache throughout nursing

Persistent, dull pain might be due to incorrect latching or positioning. Correcting these aspects can make nursing a more comfortable experience.

Nipple pain and damage

A poor latch can cause excruciating nipple pain and even lead to damage. Learning the art of achieving a proper latch can significantly alleviate this pain.

Intense pain due to mastitis and abscess

Mastitis and its more severe form, abscess, can cause intense breast pain. Seeking medical advice and adhering to the prescribed treatment plan is crucial for recovery.

Proper latching and Positioning

A significant step towards minimizing breast pain is ensuring your baby has a correct latch and proper positioning during breastfeeding.

Significance of a correct latch

A proper latch involves the baby taking a substantial portion of the areola along with the nipple into their mouth. This not only helps with efficient milk transfer but also prevents nipple soreness.

Step-by-step guide to achieving a good latch

  • Hold your baby in such a way that their body faces yours.
  • Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide.
  • Bring them close to your breast and ensure their lips cover a substantial part of the areola.
  • The baby’s chin should touch your breast first, followed by their nose.
  • Avoid pushing your breast into the baby’s mouth; instead, let them take it in naturally.
  • Importance of positioning for optimal milk transfer

Along with a correct latch, positioning is crucial. Ensure you’re comfortable and well-supported, using pillows if necessary. Your baby’s head and body should be aligned, and their ear, shoulder, and hip should form a straight line.

Seeking assistance from lactation consultants

If you’re struggling with latching and positioning, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant. Their expertise can make a world of difference in your breastfeeding journey.

Addressing Nipple Pain

Breast Engorgement Home Remedies
Breast Engorgement Home Remedies

Nipple pain can be discouraging, but there are steps you can take to find relief and make breastfeeding more comfortable.

  • Identifying causes beyond latch issues
  • If you’ve ensured a proper latch and still experience nipple pain, consider other factors such as thrush, skin sensitivity, or improper nipple care.

Using nipple creams and lanolin for relief

Nipple creams and lanolin-based products can provide a protective barrier, promote healing, and alleviate discomfort.

Allowing nipples to air dry after feedings

Give your nipples some breathing room after nursing. Letting them air dry can prevent moisture buildup and reduce the risk of soreness.

Exploring nipple shields under expert guidance

In some cases, nipple shields can be helpful, but it’s important to consult a lactation consultant before using them. They can guide you on their proper usage.

Seeking Professional Help

Knowing when to reach out to a professional can make a significant difference in your breastfeeding experience.

  • If you’re facing persistent pain, latch issues, or any other breastfeeding challenges, don’t hesitate to seek expert guidance.
  • Every breastfeeding journey is unique. A lactation consultant or doctor can tailor advice to your specific needs and circumstances.
  • Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Seek support from your partner, family, friends, or online breastfeeding communities to navigate challenges together.

Self-Care for Breastfeeding Mothers

Taking care of yourself is crucial for a successful breastfeeding journey.

  • Nursing takes a toll on your body, so make sure to get enough rest and sleep whenever possible.
  • Fuel your body with nutritious foods to maintain your energy levels and support milk production.
  • Massaging your breasts gently can help relieve engorgement and improve milk flow.
  • Stress can affect your milk supply and your overall well-being. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

When to Consider Alternative Feeding Options

Sometimes, breastfeeding challenges persist, and alternative feeding options might be necessary.

  • Supplementing can provide relief and ensure your baby gets adequate nutrition.
  • If direct nursing remains challenging, exclusively pumping can still provide your baby with breast milk.
  • The ultimate goal is your baby’s well-being. If breastfeeding isn’t working as planned, remember that a fed and healthy baby is what truly matters.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I relieve breast pain during breastfeeding?

You can try warm compresses, gentle massage, expressing a bit of milk by hand, and making sure your baby latches properly. If the pain persists, consult a lactation consultant or doctor for guidance.

Does breast pain mean milk is coming in?

Breast pain can occur as your milk comes in, usually a few days after birth. However, ongoing or severe pain may signal latching or other issues. Seek expert advice to be sure.

How do you know if you have a blocked milk duct?

A blocked duct can feel like a small, tender lump in your breast. The area might be sore and warm. If you suspect a blocked duct, consider massaging towards the nipple, using warm compresses, and checking with a healthcare provider.

What is the fastest way to cure pain in Breast while Breastfeeding?

The quickest relief often comes from addressing the cause. Ensuring a proper latch, frequent feeding, expressing a bit of milk, warm compresses, and rest can all help ease breast pain.

Why do my breasts hurt while breastfeeding?

Breast pain can result from various causes, such as engorgement, blocked ducts, poor latch, or infections like mastitis. Identifying the cause and seeking assistance can alleviate the discomfort.

Can babies eat clogged milk ducts?

Babies cannot consume clogged milk ducts. It’s important to address the blockage to ensure a healthy milk flow.

How do you unblock milk ducts naturally?

You can try techniques like warm compresses, gentle massage, frequent feeding, changing breastfeeding positions, and ensuring proper latching to help naturally unblock milk ducts.

Does leaking breast milk mean a good milk supply?

Leaking breasts can indicate a good milk supply, but not leaking doesn’t mean your supply is low. Each person’s body responds differently. The baby’s weight gain and feeding cues are better indicators of milk supply.

Does wearing a bra prevent mastitis?

Wearing a well-fitting, comfortable bra can help prevent discomfort and clogged ducts, but it’s not a guaranteed prevention for mastitis. Proper breastfeeding techniques and hygiene also play a role.

How painful is mastitis?

Mastitis can cause significant pain, often leading to a sore, hot breast, flu-like symptoms, and general discomfort. Seeking treatment early can help manage the pain and prevent complications.


Breastfeeding is a mix of happy times and tough moments. Dealing with breast pain during this journey is common, and you’re not alone. By learning about it and getting help, you can manage it well. Remember, taking care of yourself and seeking support are super important. You’re doing great for yourself and your baby, so keep going with confidence and love.