Breastfeeding is supposed to be a pleasurable experience for both you and your baby. Sometimes, however, you may experience breast pain while you are breastfeeding. Some types of pain are normal and usually subside after a minute or so. Other types of pain can signal problems that require a doctor’s attention. Breast pain with breastfeeding can happen for a variety of reasons.
Some moms feel pain during the first 30 to 60 seconds of breastfeeding from the let-down reflex that happens to allow the milk to flow through the milk ducts. Or, you might feel pain from the baby pulling your nipple and areola into his mouth. This is normal if the pain goes away. If the pain continues, try taking your baby off your nipple so that you can reposition him. If that doesn’t help, you should consult with your doctor. You might also feel pain if your baby latches only to your nipple without taking the areola, too. That typically feels like a pinch and can cause cracked, sore nipples.
Clogged Milk Ducts
Sometimes, the milk ducts become clogged, making the area sore and inflamed. The first sign of a clogged milk duct is a small, hard lump. Try massaging the area and applying warm compresses before you breastfeed, recommends the BabyCenter website. Clogged milk ducts can result in infection. Symptoms are sore breasts, flu-like symptoms, chills, fever, a hard breast or red streaks on your breast. This infection, called mastitis, can clear up with antibiotics that your doctor can prescribe.
You may have a yeast infection of the nipple, called thrush. This results in a burning or shooting pain in your breast during or after feedings. It also can cause pain inside your breast and can cause cracked nipples. Your baby could have oral thrush as well, evidenced by white or yellow patches on her lips, tongue or cheeks. You should call your doctor if you or your baby has any of these symptoms.
If you have inverted or flat nipples, you may have pain in your nipple area when you breastfeed. A lactation specialist can help show you ways to make nursing easier, according to FamilyDoctor.org.
It’s normal during the first weeks of breastfeeding for your breasts to become engorged. This makes them swollen and hard, which can be uncomfortable. You have to express the milk either by having your baby nurse, or by pumping. The longer you wait, the more engorged your breasts can become. Applying a warm compress before you pump can help to ease the pain.