Health Library
Breastfeeding: Sore Nipples

What Causes Sore Nipples When Breastfeeding?

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 the issue 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 painful, and the skin on your nipple should not break down. Some mild tenderness can be common in the first week or two. Initial discomfort should then improve. Sore nipples may be from a poor latch or your baby not sucking correctly. The way the baby’s mouth is made can affect the way they suck.

Some moms may start to feel a tingling sensation in nipples and breast after a couple of weeks – this is called the “ejection reflex” or “let down.” This is normal but not everyone experiences it, so don’t worry if you don’t get that feeling. “Let down” is when the milk comes out faster and you will hear your baby swallow more often. This may happen a few times during the feeding.

Nipples Should Not ...

  • Feel really sore or bruised when the baby is sucking
  • Look red, raw, blistered or cracked, or bleed
  • 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 also appear as white patches in the baby’s mouth or show up as a bright red diaper rash. Special treatments and medicines are needed for this infection. Contact your doctor or your baby’s doctor for more information and treatment.

Contact Us

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

Last Updated 04/2021

Reviewed By Barb Chaney, MSN, RN, IBCLC