Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. Let's talk about nipple pain and how to prevent it.
In the early weeks, many mums experience some nipple tenderness, discomfort or pain when their baby first attaches but this improves as the feed goes on.
For most mums, sore nipples stop being a problem after a few weeks. If nipple pain continues, or is very severe, it shows that something isn't quite right. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
What causes sore nipples?
In the early days, most sore nipples are caused by incorrect attachment to the breast. The nipple is rubbed and squashed between your baby’s tongue and the roof of their mouth. Your baby may not be taking a large enough mouthful of breast and/or not drawing your nipple far enough back into their mouth.
When your baby comes off the breast, you may notice that your nipple is squashed or more flat. You may see a line of swelling and redness across the nipple, a white area or even a small stripe of blood under the skin.
All these signs show that your baby was not attached properly and your nipple was being damaged.
Occasionally there may be problems with your baby's mouth, such as tongue-tie, which prevent them from attaching correctly, causing nipple damage.
Preventing sore nipples
You can help prevent damage to your nipples from the start by being extra careful about positioning and attachment. Baby-led attachment is very useful for helping babies to attach by themselves, even after the early weeks.
If you do have a sore or cracked nipple, this is usually only a short-term problem. With the right help and support, most mums find they can go on to breastfeed comfortably.