Sore Breasts

sore breasts

The Sore Breasts page is in evolution as I slowly get all the photos and videos together to help you see other mothers stories and photos and help you figure out what's causing problems for you.

I've found that there's commonly more than one cause for each woman's breast or nipple pain so do check out all the different causes just in case a few seem to be the right diagnosis for you.

There are problems that your baby may be causing you or there are problems that you may have due to infection or skin problems that would happen regardless of how well your baby is attaching.

Sore Breasts Because of Your Baby

cracked nipple

This image used with kind permission from Zen Spa Consulting

Poor drinking from your can cause sore nipples really quickly and is often the cause of other more long standing conditions in your nipples such as an infection.

Anything from cracks (as shown here) to scabs, blood blisters, fissures (even the words sound awful) can happen.  My biggest piece of advice is SEE SOMEONE to get it sorted out early - it doesn't have to continue this way!

Mothers who get help early are more likely to continue breastfeeding than those who don't.

Basically your baby may be:

  • Not latching on correctly (ALWAYS THE FIRST THING TO CHECK)
  • Not using their tongue properly (get a lactation consultant to check this if you're worried - some signs it may not be working is a really long duration of feeding each time they drink)
  • Your baby is too small for your breast when they're a newborn - they just can't get their mouth big enough to get onto your nipple well - this an be because they're premature or they just have a little mouth
  • Your baby may have a tongue tie or a lip tie (they usually won't be able to stay latched on, and can't stick their tongue out very far or spread their lips out very wide for a good attachment)
  • Your baby isn't emptying your breast well - because they are breastfeeding for comfrot rather than hunger, or because they are struggling to stay awake.  This can cause mastitis, and breast compressions are a great way to help them get all the milk out at each feed if they are falling asleep.

Pain Not Just Because of Your Baby

sore nipples

This image used with kind permission from Zen Spa Consulting

Many of the things I've got in the next list can happen because your baby started a problem that then got worse, but sometimes it's just that your hormones haven't settled down in the first 3 months and milk production is all over the place, or that your feeding schedule is all over the place because of a sick baby or one who wants to wean (or is just refusing the breast for some reason like teething or an ear infection).

  • Engorgement - really common in the first few weeks but also in the first 3 months til your milk supply settles.  Sometimes it happens from using a breast pump too much and sometimes from them weaning.  If you have really sore breasts, try expressing a little milk but only jsut enough to relieve the pressure otherwise you'll just make the problem worse.
  • Blocked Ducts or Mastitis - This can be because your baby isn't fully draining your breast or because your wearing tight fitting clothes etc.  Check out the treatment for mastitis page for lot of different, painless ways to massage your breast.
  • Bacterial Infection/Yellow Discharge on a damaged nipple - this is usually from a baby incorrectly attaching at some point (or still incorrectly attaching) causing some cracks or blisters which then become infected.  See your doctor for antibiotics and keep your breasts dry and clean.
  • Breast Thrush/Oral Thrush in your baby - Pink Nipples and often White Spots in Your Baby's Mouth plus a Strong Red Nappy Rash.  You really nee to treat this as soon as you notice it.  There are lots of natural and pharmaceutical options for this one.

Sore Breasts Your Baby Didn't Cause

milk blister/bleb

This image used with kind permission from Zen Spa Consulting

Sometimes our bodies just don't handle the crazy hormonal surges, sometimes we accidentally cause sore breasts for ourselves and sometimes we're just too stressed about our baby to take care of ourselves!!

All of these things can cause sore breasts for different reasons:

  • Inverted Nipples or Dimple Nipples - This can be a bit painful as your baby starts to suck them out.  Getting help from a lactation consultant is really useful so you know what to expect and do.
  • Milk Blister or Bleb - as shown in the picture (though hard to see because they're really small), a little white dot that is a blocked duct out through the nipple where the skin regrew.  It's mainly painful during the feed.
  • Dermatitis - Bright Red usually.  Most mothers have a history of psoriasis or eczema or other skin sensitivities.  Just be aware - sometimes you may be allergic to lanolin or something else you've put on your nipple because your baby was hurting it.
  • Nipple Vasospasm - White nipples just after a feed.  This one is really painful during the feed and sometimes for a little while after.
  • Incorrect Pump Use - this is definitely not your baby's fault for your sore breasts!! Most mothers I speak to don't realise you can actually get different sized flanges for your pump, or that you can use a pump with too much suction or use it and make yourself produce too much milk and cause blocked ducts and mastitis.
  • Clothes are Too Tight - there's a reason maternity bras don't have underwires and it's because your breasts don't like to be pressed on too much.  Make sure your bra isn't digging in as your breast fills up between feeds and that you're not causing sore breasts just becuse you have a really tight top!
  • Poor Posture - a topic close to my heart as an osteopath!! Lots of new mothers are really hunched over when they try to get their newborn attaching correctly but it does squash your breasts, and it also irritate your nerves and can cause nipple vasospasm.  Also check out your sleeping position - if you're on your stomach you may be squashing your breasts too much while you sleep.
  • Getting your Period Back or Falling Pregnant - Obvious really that these can cause sore breasts and tender nipples, but sometimes you won't be aware that you've returned to fertility while breastfeeding.

Back to Breastfeeding Babies home page from Sore Breasts


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Want to know the 16 DIFFERENT PAINLESS BLOCKED DUCT AND MASTITIS REMEDIES I used?  Check out the mastitis treatment page!