Breastfeeding Myth: Sore Nipples

Breastfeeding is not suppossed to hurt.    Ever!   Think of all the mammals who nurse their babies.  Are they grimacing?  Are they trying to avoid breastfeeding because of the pain?  Absolutely not.  They look peaceful and relaxed.  We are mammals too!  Breastfeeding is a normal process that is meant to be enjoyable for mother and baby.

So, what are normal sensations when breastfeeding?

There should be no nipple tenderness at all in the first 24 hours. After that your nipples may feel slightly tender during the first few seconds of breastfeeding, but feel fine as the baby continues to nurse. What’s the difference between tenderness and pain? The tenderness is fleeting and mild. It doesn’t make you cry out or gasp. You look forward to breastfeeding. Your nipples look healthy.

Pain, however, often lasts throughout the feeding. You feel tense. You dread breastfeeding because it hurts. You also may find yourself ending the feeding before the baby is finished. Your nipples may look creased or flattened after feedings. You wonder how long you can continue with this.

When the baby is latched on correctly, you may feel some gentle, rhythmic tugging. Some women feel the milk-ejection reflex (let down). It is often experienced as a tingly sensation around the areola or a mild ache in the breasts. Experienced mothers welcome this feeling–it means baby is getting lots of milk!

If breastfeeding is painful, enlist the help of a lactation consultant. She’ll help you breastfeed comfortably so you can truly enjoy nursing your baby.

One thought on “Breastfeeding Myth: Sore Nipples

  1. I absolutely LOVE your blog and I have only read two entries. My oldest will be 17 this month and when I nursed him (took him a month to latch) I had NO pain whatsoever! When he finished nursing my aerola was elongated which placed my nipple in the back of his throat.

    I have an almost 5 week old who just latched 2 days ago. Pain, pain, pain. Everything inside me cried out that something was wrong. But reading on breastfeeding message board that “it’s normal…power through the pain.” I am with you on the pain part…it obviously has become a norm that to believe otherwise and do something about it is odd.

    So, today, I am going to focus on getting a correct and pain-free latch going. :) Thank you for your blog.

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