Ouch! Breastfeeding Hurts!

Breastfeeding is painful.

A chief complaint of new moms is that no one told them it was going to hurt so much. Consider yourself warned.

Sure, you’ve taken the requisite ‘how to breastfeed’ class from the hospital you’re delivering at or perhaps you’ve read a book or two on ‘beginning to breastfeed’.

But let’s face it, would reading a book or taking a class really teach you how to ride a bicycle? No! You have to get on, pedal, fall off and scrape your knee, get back on and do it.

Honestly, a scraped knee is a lot less painful than early breastfeeding. Your nipples are 3000 percent more sensitive than your knees. You’re essentially putting an adorable little Hoover vacuum on your nipple and hoping for the best. You will get scabs and sores and possibly bleed.

A pretty common and uncomfortable issue is sore and cracked nipples. You can either apply lanolin or breastmilk to help ease the pain. Eventually you will heal.

But another condition to be on the lookout for is thrush, or a yeast infection of the nipple. That’s more difficult to treat. Read more about the symptoms and treatment here.

There’s also the possibility of one or more of your milk ducts plugging up. If a duct gets clogged, the area will likely feel tender and may become red. The best way to unplug it is to express milk. Have baby nurse on that side first. You can also try pumping or hand expression to get the milk flowing again. Dr. Sears has some great advice on this topic.

Of even bigger concern is developing mastitis: an infection of the breast tissue. It can cause pain, swelling, warmth or redness in your breast and give you fever and chills. While antibiotics can clear it up most times, it’s imperative you call your doctor if you think you’ve got mastitis.

Sounds like fun right? Not really. But breastfeeding actually gets easier with time. It’s different for everyone of course. For some it can take a couple of months before the initial discomfort is gone.

But millions of moms have persevered before you. You too can get to a place of enjoyable breastfeeding. Keep calm and nurse on!


The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.