Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Nipple Pain

on May 19, 2014


Why do I suddenly have nipple pain after nursing without pain for several weeks?

There could be a few reasons but a common cause of sudden nipple pain is thrush, or a yeast infection. This pain often feels intense or “burning” with shooting pains deep into the breast. It occurs both while nursing and between feedings. It is not improved with correcting baby’s latch.

Other causes for sudden nipple pain can be:

  • teething or other changes in your baby’s mouth that affect how he latches on
  • changing nursing patterns (if your baby spaces out his feedings, flow may be faster and he may adjust his latch to cope)
  • pregnancy
  • use of an ineffective breast pump
  • skin reactions such as eczema and psoriasis
  • skin infections such as herpes and chicken pox (You would also see sores on your breast.)

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It hurts when my baby is breastfeeding. What can I do?

The most common cause of nipple pain is a shallow latch. This means that your baby does not have enough breast tissue in his mouth. Babies need a deep latch to get enough milk. If your baby is not latched correctly, you may notice a crease across the tip of your nipple when it comes out of your baby’s mouth. Or it may be shaped like a new lipstick, or white at the tip. If the pain doesn’t resolve or you’re having difficulty getting a deeper latch, consider having a lactation expert (A LLL Leader, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or knowledgeable health professional) observe your baby at breast.

Frequent feeding and a low number of poops are a red flag that the baby may not be latching and sucking effectively.  Read more here .

ABCs of Latching

Your new baby needs to tip his head back in a “sniffing” position to be able to open wide and get a deep latch. When your hand is on his head during latching, this can interfere with a happy start to the feeding. Due to an inborn reflex, some babies will arch their back and cry. Others will do their best to latch on, but the latch will be shallow and may pinch. Just sliding your hand down to support baby’s upper back and shoulders can make all the difference.

Sit comfortably (don’t lean over baby).  Hold baby very close to you with your arm. Pull baby’s feet in close to your other side, so baby is tucked in just under the breasts.  Baby’s face and body are turned toward you. Baby’s chin is leading and nose is tilted back in a sniffing position.  Steady your breast with fingers if needed.

Baby’s bottom lip and chin are touching breast and top lip brushes nipple as he opens wide.

Quickly pull baby closer to you to latch on.  Baby’s mouth will cover a large part of the darker skin especially with the lower lip.



Read more about positioning here.


by Nicola Aquino, LLLC Professional Liaison Adminstrator,

Sketches by Deborah Mesher.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally






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