A painful breast from breastfeeding is a problem that many people face. There are a few different causes for this and each cause of breastfeeding pain has a different treatment.
Clogged Milk Duct
A clogged duct from breastfeeding can cause breast pain. A clogged milk duct can feel like a small bump on the breast. It is usually tender to touch. Clogged ducts happen when milk gets backed up in the milk ducts of the breast. This can happen if you are not pumping or breastfeeding frequently enough. It can also happen if you are breastfeeding so frequently that you develop an oversupply. Additionally, if your baby has a poor latch or can’t empty the breast, the milk ducts can become clogged. Sometimes a bra that is too tight can also cause a clogged duct.
Be prepared to treat a clogged milk duct:
Buy a large heating pad that can drape over both breasts. Using a heating pad and massage may help to loosen the clog. A warm shower can also be very helpful. Massage the breast with the clog as you let warm water run over the breast. You should attempt to empty the breast in the area of the clog by breastfeeding more frequently.
Having a bottle of sunflower lecithin readily available can also help. Taking 1200 mg 2 to 3 times a day may help, but be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Continue breastfeeding or pumping. In order to treat the clogged milk duct you must keep milk flowing out of the breast.
Because a clogged duct can eventually cause mastititis, it is important to seek professional medical help if your clogged duct is not better in 12 to 24 hours. If you develop a fever or redness over the area, this is also a sign to get professional help.
Mastitis With Breastfeeding
Mastitis usually happens from a clogged milk duct. It is a serious infection that needs treatment with antibiotics. The breast can be painful, red, and even swollen. Patients with mastitis also have flu-like symptoms and can have a fever, fatigue, and a headache. If you think you have mastitis contact a doctor right away. Some of the antibiotics used to treat mastitis include cephalexin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, dicloxacillin, and clindamycin. Your doctor will determine the right mastitis antibiotic for you.
Related: Postpartum Rib Pain
Nipple Pain From Breastfeeding
Many people experience nipple pain from breastfeeding. In theory, breastfeeding should not be painful. However, there are certain situations in which nipple pain from breastfeeding is more likely to happen. A poor latch can cause nipple pain from breastfeeding. The latch in breastfeeding should be deep. This means that your baby should take in as much breast tissue into their mouth as possible. If the baby is only sucking on the nipple, this is will be very painful. As your baby grows older and starts teething, they may use your breast tissue as a teether. This is also very painful and you will need to unlatch your baby if they start to do this. Help to heal nipple cracks by using nipple cream or even applying some breast milk to the nipple before and after feeds. If your nipple pain is extreme, consider using the breast pump at a low setting until your nipple has had a chance to heal.
Painful Breast From Breastfeeding: Take Home Points
Sadly, it is not uncommon to have a painful breast from breastfeeding. You can be prepared to handle this by having the right things at home to combat the pain quickly. Unfortunately, breasts can be come painful in just a few short hours, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute to have what you need at home. Remember that if the pain lasts longer than 12 hours or is accompanied by a fever, you should call your doctor immediately. There are certain infections like mastitis that need treatment with an antibiotic.
Pevzner M, Dahan A. Mastitis While Breastfeeding: Prevention, the Importance of Proper Treatment, and Potential Complications. J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 22;9(8):2328. doi: 10.3390/jcm9082328. PMID: 32707832; PMCID: PMC7465810.
Kataria K, Srivastava A, Dhar A. Management of lactational mastitis and breast abscesses: review of current knowledge and practice. Indian J Surg. 2013 Dec;75(6):430-5. doi: 10.1007/s12262-012-0776-1. Epub 2012 Dec 12. PMID: 24465097; PMCID: PMC3900741.
We discuss products we think are useful to people. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Remember to check with your personal physician to see if a product recommended is right for you.