Short Answer – Is breastfeeding painful? You may have 30-60 seconds of pain when your baby first latches on to your breast, but anything beyond that might indicate an issue of some kind. See a lactation consultant if the breastfeeding discomfort continues. You shouldn’t have to be in pain to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have To Hurt

Is breastfeeding painful? You may hear lots of mamas complain about pain during breastfeeding. This doesn’t mean pain is “just how it is”.  If breastfeeding hurts beyond the initial moments it takes your baby to latch on, then something else is probably going on. You shouldn’t be wondering why breastfeeding is so painful all the time

Don’t try to tough it out and ignore the pain. It’s in your best interest (and your baby’s) to reach out to a lactation consultant to figure out what’s happening before your nipples get so cracked and sore that you don’t want to breastfeed anymore. Lots of things can cause nipple pain during breastfeeding. It’s important to determine what is going on. 

Common Causes Of Breastfeeding Pain

If you’re asking why is breastfeeding painful, here are some common causes. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or lactation consultant for assistance. 

  • Shallow Latch – Your baby isn’t getting enough of your breast in their mouth during feeding causing pain, and potentially damage to your nipple.
  • Thrush –  If your baby has a yeast infection in the mouth (thrush) they can pass it onto you, causing nipple pain. Symptoms include; breastfeeding shooting pain or burning during or after feeding, and/or itchy, red, shiny, painful nipples. See a healthcare provider to treat you (and your baby).
  • Breast Pump Damage – Improperly using a breast pump can damage your nipples causing pain. A lactation consultant can help you find a pump in the correct size and show you how to use it properly.
  • Mastitis – An infection of the milk ducts. Symptoms include; fever, chills, a hard or red area of the breast, or red streaks on your breast. Mastitis can be treated with antibiotics, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Milk Bleb – This is caused when a thin layer of skin grows over a milk duct opening and causes milk to get trapped in the duct. It looks like a white or yellow dot on the nipple and may have pain right behind that spot. Your lactation consultant or doc can easily fix this.
  • Tongue-Tied – If your baby is tongue-tied, meaning the skin connecting their tongue to the floor of their mouth is short or extends too far out, this can cause nursing problems and pain. A minor procedure can easily fix this problem for your baby.
  • Nipple Blister –  A clear, yellow, or bloody blister on the nipple that causes pain during feeding. Friction or suction from a poor latch often causes this.

Another common cause of breastfeeding discomfort is engorgement. Why is breastfeeding painful in this case? Engorgement makes it difficult for your baby to latch deeply, which can lead to painful nipples. If your breasts feel hard, swollen, lumpy, or uncomfortably full it may be due to engorgement. There are steps you can take to ease the pressure and relieve the pain.

If you’re experiencing pain, don’t wait to ask for help!  There are many potential answers to the question why is breastfeeding painful? A lactation consultant can work with you to determine the root cause of your pain and find the best way to treat it.  That way, you can get back to nursing your little bundle of joy…comfortably.

Wondering if your baby is getting enough breast milk? This is one of the common breastfeeding challenges we address here.