Breastfeeding Your Baby:
How to Prevent Sore Breasts
Breastfeeding is the best, most nurturing way of feeding your new baby – something special you can do for your child and you.
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- What to expect in the first weeks
- How to prevent sore breasts
- Returning to work or school
- Breastfeeding an older baby
- When you need to be away
If your baby doesn’t take enough milk from your breasts, they may become engorged — uncomfortably full, hard or warm.
How to prevent engorgement
- Make sure your baby latches on correctly and that you’re positioned right.
- Breastfeed newborns 8-12 times in 24 hours.
- Avoid pacifiers and bottles during the first few weeks.
- Try not to delay or skip feedings.
What to do if your breasts are engorged
- Put a warm wet cloth on your breasts before feedings, or take a warm shower to help your milk flow.
- Massage your breasts gently before and during feeding.
- Express some milk to soften your breast.
- Put a cool cloth or ice pack on your breasts to reduce swelling between feedings.
Plugged milk duct
Sometimes a milk duct gets plugged up and sore. If this happens:
- Breastfeed often and start on the sore side first.
- Try different positions to help remove the plug. Try pointing the baby’s nose toward the tender spot on your breast.
- Before feeding, put a warm wet washcloth on your breast and massage the tender spot.
- Take care of yourself. Rest and eat well.
- If you also have flu-like symptoms like body aches, congestion or a fever, you may have a breast infection.
- Keep breastfeeding, and call your doctor. You may need antibiotics.
For 2-4 days after giving birth, tender nipples are common, especially when your baby latches-on. After the first few sucks, breastfeeding should be comfortable.
To avoid sore nipples:
Make sure your baby latches on correctly and that you’re positioned right. Ask for help if you need it.
- Try different positions.
- If breastfeeding hurts, ask for help from a breastfeeding specialist.
- To take the baby off the breast, put your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction.
- Use only water to wash your breasts.
If your nipples are very sore:
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Take a few deep breaths before feeding to relax.
- Before feeding, put ice on your nipples for a few seconds to ease the soreness.
- Start feedings on the less-sore nipple.
- Rub a few drops of breastmilk on your nipple and the dark area around it after feeding. Let nipples air dry.
It’s not normal if pain continues during and between feedings, or your nipples are blistered, cracked or bleeding. Call a breastfeeding specialist or your doctor for help.
Thrush is a common yeast infection. Signs of thrush:
- Nipple soreness, itching, burning or shooting pains through your breast when the baby latches on.
- White patches in baby’s mouth or bright red diaper rash.
If you see signs of thrush, keep breastfeeding and call your doctor or nurse. You and your baby may need medications.