Sore Nipples

Mom and infant.Sore nipples may be the most common problem mothers have when breastfeeding.

Sore nipples may be caused by different things. Treatment depends on the cause, and it is important to find out what it is. A certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) or healthcare professional trained in lactation support will be able to help. 

Feeding baby at the breast should not be very painful, and the skin on your nipple should not break down. However, mild tenderness is fairly common for the first week or two.

The discomfort should then be gone. You may start to feel a tingling sensation in your nipples and breast after a couple of weeks. This is normal but may not be felt by everyone; don’t worry if you don’t feel it. It’s called the “ejection reflex” or “let down.”  This is when the milk comes out faster, and you’ll hear your baby swallowing more frequently. This may happen a few times during the feeding.

Sore nipples may be from a poor latch or not sucking correctly. Sucking could be affected by the way the baby’s mouth is made.

  • Very sore or feel bruised when sucking
  • Very red, raw, blistered or cracked
  • Look creased, pointed or blanched (white) at the end of the feeding

If your nipples become red and burn, or feel extremely sore after weeks or months of pain-free feeding from the breast, it may be a yeast infection such as thrush. Yeast may appear as white patches in the baby’s mouth or it may show up as a bright red diaper rash. Special treatments and medicines need to be used. Contact your baby’s doctor for more information and treatment.

For additional information on this Health Topic, call the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at 513-636-2326.  


Last Updated 09/2012