Ouch! Causes of Pain when Breastfeeding

Pain when breastfeeding can be very alarming. There are a number of reasons why some breastfeeding Mothers experience pain during breastfeeding. With all these causes, it is important that you deal with the issue as soon as possible so that you can limit the problem and resume normal service!

Causes of Breast Pain

Here are some of the most common causes of breast pain when breastfeeding?


Mastitis causes inflammation and pain in the breast. It usually occurs on one side but it can occur in both breasts. Pain can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms; fever, chills, nausea? it can be really very unpleasant. Masitis can be caused by blockages in the breast, for example when the milk is not fully drained when baby is not latched on correctly; milk remaining in the breast is called milk stasis. Mastitis can also be caused by infection, when bacteria enters the milk ducts. Mastitis caused by milk stasis can become infective in time so it is important that suspected mastitis is dealt with as soon as possible. Treatment for infective mastitis requires antibiotics and it is important you get lots of fluids and rest as well as dealing with the cause of the problem; have your breastfeeding technique checked and continue to feed. If you stop feeding, the resulting engorgement will make the problem worse. There is no need to stop breastfeeding when you have mastitis, unless there are other complications; speak to your doctor or a lactation specialist.


Thrush can be the cause of breast and nipple pain without even be visible on the breast. You may see a white film on the nipple or areola but you may not and this makes thrush often difficult to diagnose. It can be useful to check your baby’s mouth; if you have thrush, the chances are your baby has it too. Thrush in the baby’s mouth will look white, and it won?t rub off like milky residue. To treat thrush, you need to treat your breasts and baby’s mouth and this can often be done using the same gel treatment. Thrush can be difficult to get rid of as you will find you and baby can pass it back and forth to one another again and again. Wash your clothing and baby’s clothing as well as all towels and other accessories in a hot cycle and allow it to dry in the sunlight as this will kill any fungal deposits. Change breast pads regularly and wear loose cotton tops. Again, it is fine to continue to feed your baby.

Blocked Duct

A blocked duct can occur if milk is left in the breast (milk stasis) or for a range of less common reasons, from something as simple as a tight bra or the way you lie when sleeping. A blocked duct is not always painful, they often resolve after a feed or with some gentle massage. Others will become hot, inflamed and painful. Feed as often as you can with a good latch to drain the breasts and stop the milk back-up. See your doctor if you feel you may have mastitis as symptoms are often similar.

Poor Latch

A poor latch can cause pain because the baby may suck on the nipple itself, and in time this can be really irritating to the skin and cause a lot of pain. Blisters, broken skin and skin which has been rubbed can be very painful to continue feeding but once the latch is rectified the skin can heal and feeding will not be as painful as the painful areas will no longer be irritated by the poor latch.

With any pain in the breast, or any bleeding or unusual discharge, it is important to get checked out by your doctor. A very quick examination can put an end to a lot of worry, and let you get back to feeding your baby stress-free!

Further information can be found at www.breastfeeding.ie