Ouch! 8 Steps for Nipple Pain Relief while Breastfeeding

 Mother breastfeeding her baby

What’s normal? Are you experiencing painful or sore nipples while breastfeeding?

What’s “normal” nipple pain?

  • Described as soreness

  • Lasts for the first few seconds when baby initially latches, and then subsides

  • Peaks around day 3-6

  • Nipple skin is intact

  • Nipple is round when baby unlatches

What’s more than “normal” nipple pain?

  • Described as “pain”

  • Continues throughout the entire nursing session

  • Continues past the first week

  • Nipples are cracked, bleeding, and/or blistered

  • Nipple is flattened or compressed when baby unlatches

What can you do to relieve sore nipples?

  1. Hand express some colostrum, apply to nipple and let air dry.

  2. Apply pure lanolin to nipples (this is safe for baby).

  3. Use breast shells - they allow air to circulate but keep clothing from rubbing on nipples

  4. If latching is too painful, consider pumping or hand expressing every 3 hours instead. This will protect your milk supply and provide colostrum/milk for baby while you heal/seek help.

  5. Continue to ensure baby’s latch is as deep and comfortable as possible each and every nursing session. Prevention is the best treatment for sore nipples!

  6. As a temporary measure, you can try nursing with a nipple shield. NOTE: Lactation professionals have very mixed feelings on using shields. But, if it enables you to continue breastfeeding until you are able to address the cause of the nipple pain (usually a latch issue) then the pros outweigh the cons for many new moms.

  7. Seek help! Get assistance from an experienced/certified lactation consultant who can help with baby’s latch and rule out a tongue tie.

  8. If nipple trauma is significant and not healing, you may need to call your OB/midwife for a prescription ointment.


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Learn the difference between what is and isn't “normal” breastfeeding nipple pain and how to deal with it. Learn the difference between what is and isn't “normal” breastfeeding nipple pain and how to deal with it.