Are you experiencing breast pain after breastfeeding or pumping? These tips can help you find breastfeeding pain relief.
This can’t be normal, I thought to myself.
Once again, I found myself curled on my bed in a fetal position, with tears squeezing out of my eyes. The sharp, shooting pains that happened after breastfeeding—even after pumping—came once again. They felt like electric shocks that came and went for at least 30 minutes after I nursed the twins.
So much so that I wanted to quit breastfeeding altogether.
This wasn’t the first time, either. A few years earlier, I was a first-time mom eager to nurse, only to find breastfeeding much harder than I ever imagined. To keep myself motivated, I’d hop online every day to learn the benefits of breastfeeding, pushing myself to hang in there for just one more day.
And let’s not even mention the clogged ducts, the cut and bleeding nipples, and the chafing against clothes.
How to ease breast pain after breastfeeding
Sometimes the biggest comfort is simply knowing you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who’s had excruciating stinging and burning sensations that come and go after feedings. Or even the discomfort of a bad latch that makes you dread the next feeding session.
It’s all so discouraging, I know.
Maybe you’re a few days into nursing and realizing that it’s much harder than you thought. Perhaps you’re months into breastfeeding, only to hit a wall. Either way, rest assured you’re not alone, and that you don’t have to be in pain, much less give up breastfeeding.
But here’s the thing: you must do something about the pain, starting with talking to your doctor. While home remedies can ease most pain, others need medical attention, including medicine only your doctor can provide.
In other words: don’t ignore the pain—it’s there to tell you something.
In this article, I’ll share the tips that helped ease my pain — hopefully they can work for you, too:
1. Ask your doctor if you have thrush
I had gone through blocked ducts, mastitis, cracked and blistered breasts… I figured I could take this type of pain.
That is, until I realized the pain was getting worse, and it wasn’t going away. Pumping exclusively didn’t ease it, either, and only reduced my milk supply.
But a quick call to my doctor (as well as the twins’ pediatrician) let me know that I had an infection called “thrush.” It wouldn’t go away with any at-home remedies or over-the-counter medicines.
Instead, I needed to take a prescription medicine to get rid of the infection, as well as check my twins if they had thrush as well (they didn’t). Within days, the pain was completely gone and we were back to nursing as normal.
But imagine what would happen if I allowed the pain to get worse, or give up completely, when a quick call would’ve solved the issue?
The tricky thing with thrush is that it only gets worse. It starts off small, and without treatment, can lead to constant pain.
Don’t brush aside your symptoms, no matter how small or inconvenient it may be to call the doctor. Even if the symptoms don’t signal thrush, your doctor can still pinpoint the issue and guide you to a solution.
Tip: If you do have thrush, remember to wash any bottles, pump parts, pacifiers, nursing bras, and anything that comes in contact with your breasts.
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2. Apply heat to your breasts
Whether spasms or clogged ducts, breast pain after breastfeeding can often ease with heat.
For instance, take a warm shower and massage your breasts to encourage unclogging. Apply a heating pad after feeding to soothe the pain. Use a warm cloth to massage while you’re feeding (of course, be careful to avoid disturbing your baby).
You can also apply warm compresses before and after feedings. A lot of pain can happen when the milk ducts are refilling. And if you’re already swollen with a plugged duct, the refilling process can feel painful.
3. Air dry your breasts after feedings
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Do you cover your breasts immediately after nursing, like with a bra or tank top? Consider air drying them after feedings so they’re not in immediate contact with your clothing. This will allow whatever wounds and sores to heal, especially after a feeding, than if clothes were to rub on them right away.
Trust me, this can be awkward, even if you’re alone with the baby. But even a few minutes can make a huge difference. Alternatively, you can also use nipple shells like these. They provide space between your nipples and clothes from chafing, while still allowing you to wear clothes over them.
4. Use gel pads to soothe soreness
As “natural” as breastfeeding seems to be, often it’s not exactly easy for many first-time moms. Our bodies are adjusting to nursing, sometimes “hardening up” to get used to the extended and frequent sucking of our babies.
The result? Tenderness, pain, soreness… you name it.
Soothing gel pads like these can offer cooling relief when your breasts are sore, engorged, or irritated from nursing or pumping. They can also help protect your nipples when they feel especially tender and raw after feedings.
And while many are reusable, make sure that they’re clean and fresh each time you apply them.
5. Apply lanolin cream before and after feedings
A good practice to start with every feeding—no matter how frequent—is to apply lanolin cream to soothe and protect sore nipples.
Lanolin creams like this one are designed to be safe for baby, so you can apply it before a feeding to give you extra protection. You can even use lanolin cream before taking a shower or putting on clothes—activities that can make you cringe and feel uncomfortable.
Tip: Low on lanolin, or don’t have some handy? You can do the same with breast milk. Squeeze a few drops of breast milk and apply it to the nipple area before and after feedings.
Suffice it to say, crying in a curled, fetal position is certainly a sign that something’s wrong. But sometimes the pain doesn’t have to be that extreme to need attention—sores, blisters, and tenderness should still be tended to.
Thankfully, breast pain after breastfeeding can be treated. Start by discussing your symptoms with your doctor to rule out infections or receive proper prescriptions if needed. At home, experiment with applying heat to your breasts, like massaging with a warm cloth during nursing or taking a hot shower.
Air dry your breasts after nursing, whether by removing your top for a few minutes or wearing breast shells to keep it protected. Gel pads can also work wonders for instant, cooling relief. And finally, apply lanolin cream—or even breast milk—before and after feedings to soothe and heal.
Now you can take the steps to ease the pain, whether you’ve just started nursing or are dealing with unexpected symptoms. Because pain—however common it may be during breastfeeding—should definitely not be your new normal.
Get more tips:
- When Does Breastfeeding Get Easier? Top Tips to Ease the Pain
- Scared to Breastfeed? 7 Reasons That Will Tame Your Fear
- When Does Breastfeeding Finally Stop Hurting?
- 12 Breastfeeding Secrets Every Mom Should Know
- 9 Tips on Staying Motivated to Breastfeed
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