Does Breastfeeding Hurt? (7 Reasons Why)

Breastfeeding may come as a challenge to new moms. It may hurt the first time you nurse but you have to be aware of what is normal pain and what is not.

It may also hurt anytime during the course of your whole breastfeeding experience so we have to find out what causes the pain and what we could do to alleviate the pain.

Here are 7 reasons why breastfeeding may hurt

Very sensitive nipples after childbirth

Your skin changes during and after pregnancy, and your nipples are no exception. That’s normal. In some cases, they may also appear cracked or even slightly bleed, especially if you have very delicate skin. When this happens, breastfeeding may hurt. To ease the pain, apply a warm and moist compress to your sore nipple. For the dryness and cracking, my doctor recommended dabbing a piece of cotton soaked with virgin coconut oil onto my nipples twice a day. There are also a number of nipple therapy products available commercially, the best ones – in my opinion – are lanolin creams or ointments.

Lanolin creams & Ointment Recommendations

🏆 Editor’s Choice

Medela Tender Care Lanolin Tube

Editor's Note: They are safe to use for both mommy and baby and there is no need for it to be removed before breastfeeding.

$7.49 $9.99

Other product recommendations

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Incorrect latching

Both you and your baby are breastfeeding for the first time so it’s understandable if you are not able to get it right initially. Unfortunately, an incorrect latch would cause breastfeeding to hurt because your baby is likely to be just sucking your nipple. If this is the case, he is not getting the appropriate amount of milk that he needs, which might lead to a decline in your milk production. If you feel pain, unlatch your baby and try again. Bring him to you (instead of you leaning towards him), stroke his cheek to let the rooting reflex kick in, and once his mouth is wide open, guide your nipple and as much of the areola into your baby’s mouth. Eventually, you and your baby would find the rhythm. If you find latching difficult due to your flat or inverted nipples, breast shields or breast shells might help.

Breast Shields & Breast Shells recommendations

🏆 Editor’s Choice

Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield with Carrying Case, 2 Count, for Breastfeeding Assistance with Short Term Latch On Difficulties, Ultra-Thin, Super Soft, Flexible, 100% Silicone, BPA and BPS Free

Editor's Note: Ideal for mommies struggling with latch issues. The special cut out design maximizes skin-to-skin contact with baby during feeding.

$7.05 $8.99

Other product recommendations

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Improper breastfeeding position

Correct latching somehow depends on nursing position, so if it is not done right, breastfeeding might hurt. Fortunately, only you can decide which position is ideal for you, depending on your own comfort level. Try experimenting with different positions before deciding on the proper position. It might take a lot of trial and error and what may be the most ideal position today may not be the most ideal position next week. Babies grow faster than you think. To help provide comfort while you adjust with changes in your preferred breastfeeding positions, I suggest that you get a good nursing pillow.

Nursing Pillow Recommendations

🏆 Editor’s Choice

My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow, Fireworks

Editor's Note: The back rest provides good comfort while helping you maintain good posture during breastfeeding preventing you from having sore back and neck.

$34.95 $45.00

Other product recommendations

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Milk just started to come in

breastfeeding stopped hurting when my body started producing just the right amount of milk that my baby needed.

When milk starts to flow for the first time, your breasts are engorged – meaning, they become very full of milk. Many women feel a lot of discomfort during this period, and breastfeeding will definitely hurt. In my experience, my breasts felt very hard and lumpy for a couple of days and I developed a slight fever. I found it very difficult to nurse – with my breasts being tender – but I had to express the milk in order to ease the pain. Anyway, breastfeeding stopped hurting when my body started producing just the right amount of milk that my baby needed. Other ways to relieve the pain of engorgement include: a quick warm shower before breastfeeding, applying cold compress to your breasts after nursing, massaging your breast while nursing, and taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen while breastfeeding.
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Too much pressure on pumping

Excessive pumping encourages the overproduction of milk, leading to engorgement, which – as we discussed earlier – is painful. Using the wrong kind of breast pump or using a setting that’s too high for you can also damage your tissues and make breastfeeding hurt. If your newborn is nursing every two to three hours, it really isn’t necessary for you to pump. But if you really need to express milk regularly, invest in a good breast pump that’s right for you. Do your research on the best pumps available. Here are a few examples of highly rated breast pumps for you to get started.

Top Rated Breast Pumps

🏆 Editor’s Choice – Electric

Spectra Baby USA - S2 Hospital Grade Double/Single Electric Breast Pump

Editor's note: It has a closed pumping system. This helps protect breast milk from being contaminated by bacteria, mold and viruses by preventing air flow between expressed milk and pump tubing not to mention it's super easy to clean!

$117.00 $119.98

Other recommendations for electric breast pumps

🏆 Editor’s Choice – Manual

Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

Editor's Note: Very compact and lightweight making it comfortable to use with just one hand.

$24.69 $44.99

Other recommendations for manual breast pumps

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Clogged milk ducts

Eventually, your baby will be very efficient in removing milk from your breast and you would have established a regular feeding schedule. But if – for some reason – he skips a feeding or misses out feeding from one breast, the milk inside your breast may clog up. You will know that there’s a blockage in your milk ducts if you feel a lump in your breast. These lumps might feel painful and breastfeeding may hurt. The best solution is to unclog your milk ducts by nursing or pumping right away. Drink lots of liquid to keep the milk flowing. An improper latch, a bad pump and an ill-fitting bra may also cause your milk ducts to clog up. It’s better to go braless this time or wear a nursing bra that is not too restrictive.

Nursing Bra Recommendations

🏆 Editor’s Choice

iLoveSIA 3pack Nursing Bra Nude+Black+Light Pink Size L Fit 36BC 34C 32D 30DD 38A 40A 30DDD

Editor's Note: Best replacement for those ill-fitting bras that cause discomfort during breastfeeding. This ultra-soft fabric and seamless bra molds through your body as if you are not wearing a bra at all.

$20.99 $38.98

Other product recommendations

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Breast tenderness during ovulation or menstruation is already a common nuisance of being a woman. Fortunately, when we breastfeed, we delay our period for a few months. However, when it returns while we are still breastfeeding, it becomes a major hassle. Just when we thought that we are already free of the latching and engorgement issues, breastfeeding will hurt again. And it will hurt every month, as long as we are still menstruating. Is there anything we could do about it since this is caused by hormonal changes? Well, when your breasts get sore, you could try applying hot compress for a couple of minutes. If applying heat does not help, try applying cold compress. Still not giving you relief? Try using evening primrose oil.

Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take evening primrose oil.
Our recommendation for evening primrose oil

🏆 Editor’s Choice

Evening Primrose Oil 1300mg 120 Liquid Softgels, Cold-Pressed with No fillers or Artificial Ingredients; Non-GMO & Gluten Free, Made in the USA

$16.97 $29.95

Breastfeeding may also hurt if your child is teething or starting to eat solids. Remember, breastfeeding – just like pregnancy – is a different experience for each mother or baby. What may hurt for you may not hurt for others so it’s best to consult a healthcare professional if you think that your case is unique.

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