What Can Cause Nipple Soreness When Breastfeeding?

What Can Cause Nipple Soreness When Breastfeeding?

Here are some common causes of nipple soreness if you're breastfeeding:

  • Your nipples are adjusting. It's not unusual for you to have nipple soreness during the first few weeks of breastfeeding as your breasts and nipples become accustomed to the process of nursing. However, the discomfort should subside once you and your baby have established a good feeding routine.

  • Improper latch. If your baby isn't properly latched on to your nipple during breastfeeding, it could cause soreness because of friction on your nipple as your baby's mouth chafes against the skin.

  • Milk blister. This is a painful white spot on or around the nipple. It consists of thickened milk or some skin that's overgrown a milk duct and blocked it, which causes the milk blister.

  • Blister. Unlike a milk blister, a blister from friction can be caused by something like improper latch, a poor-fitting nipple shield, or a breast pump that rubs against your skin.

  • Tongue-tie. If your baby's tongue cannot reach past his lower lip when he cries or if his tongue looks heart-shaped, it could be because the frenulum (tongue-tie) is short. A short or restricted frenulum prevents a proper latch, which in turn can cause nipple soreness.

  • Flat or inverted nipples. If you do a “pinch” test on your nipple by compressing the areola (the dark area around your nipple) about an inch behind your nipple, and the nipple doesn't slightly harden and become erect, then you might have what's considered a flat nipple. If you perform the “pinch” test and your nipple retracts, then it's considered to be inverted. Both flat and inverted nipples can prevent a proper latch during breastfeeding, which can lead to nipple soreness.

  • Not breaking the suction before removing your baby from your breast. Not only can this be painful, but it can damage breast tissue and your nipple.

  • Bras that are too tight. This puts pressure on your nipple and can irritate it.

  • Soaps or perfumes. These can dry your nipples and cause irritation and soreness. Laundry detergent can also cause this.

  • Vasospasm. After a breastfeeding session, some women may experience pain that extends from the nipple into the breast. This may be due to constriction of the blood vessels — called vasospasm — in the breast.

  • Mastitis. This breast infection can happen when a blocked milk duct prevents the milk from properly getting out of your breast. The milk builds up, causing pain and swelling in your breast and nipple. Other symptoms include red streaks on your breasts, flu-like symptoms like fever and body aches, and a hard lump in the breast.

  • Thrush infection. This is a contagious yeast infection that can infect your nipples, causing nipple soreness. If you notice white or yellowish patches anywhere in your baby's mouth or on his lips, or if he has cracked skin at the corners of his mouth, then he may have thrush. The symptoms of thrush you may notice on yourself include cracked nipples, shooting pains in your breast during or after breastfeeding, itchy or burning nipples, and unusually red nipples that are shiny or flaky.