36 answers

Extremely SORE Nipples Due to Pumping...

Has any other mother experience really sore nipples while pumping only??? I use to specifically breast feed my son, however due to latch on issues and being extremely fussy, I decided to pump only to provide my son breast milk through a bottle. My son became a happier baby with this. However my nipples due to pumping 2-3 times a day have become extremely sore, to a point where it makes me not want to pump anymore and start feeding him formula. Which is something I like to avoid until 6 months of age.

Any other mother experience this issue and what did you do to help stop the pain and make it go away??!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you to everyone who replied and gave great advise. After reading everyones suggestions and advise, I went back to giving him the breast. It has helped with the sore nipples. I also started using the breast guard the pump came with (originally used it but it prevented good suction once the milk got between the pump and the shield).

I have another request and will post soon. Thanks!

Featured Answers

Hi I had sore nipples due to breast feeding my daughter. The lactation consultant suggested Lanolin. I hope that helps you! :)

Hi Summer,
This same thing happend to me except I actually did quit and just gave her formula. She has done great on it but I am told that if you just continue, it gets better, I just did not want to rough it out. Apparently you can take Tylenol without any effect on the breast milk. In the end, I do wish I stuck it out as my little one only got 2 weeks of breast milk.

Hello Summer,
I had very similar issues. I tried vaseline, which helped a lot. There were times when my nipples bled the moment i started pumping and would not have a chance to heal, so i used neosporen to help them heal. I feel like i have tried many different things, but those two seemed to be the most efficient. I would also lather my nipple with some breast milk after i was done pumping and let it soak in to help them heal.
GOOD LUCK and hang in there! You are doing a wonderful job. I have a daughter who is 5 months now, amazing how much they change in just a few months. ENJOY!

More Answers

Hi Summer,
I am sorry to hear you gave up on directly breastfeeding. If you still desire it may be possible to achieve that goal with the help of a Lactation Consultant. You can find one online through the referal base at www.ilca.org or if you'd rather write to me I will try to make a referal if I know someone in your area.

I am an RN and Lactation Consultant. The most common causes for pain with pumping is an unsuitable (for you) pump; the flanges (the funnel like piece placed over breast and nipple) having a poor fit; the suction being too high.

If you are relying on the pump for your primary means of stimulation I would recommend either a high quality, personal grade, double eclectric, fully automatic pump such as Medela Pump In Style (original or advanced) or Ameda Purely Yours; or a good quality hospital grade pump.

Check the fit of the pump flanges - when centered in the tunnel opening the nipple should move into the tunnel without irritation, not fill the opening of the tunnel or rub on the sides. Both Medela and Ameda have larger sizes available. If using an Ameda pump make sure you are not using the inserts for small nipples that come with the pump (Medela stopped including them with their regular kit). Also make sure to use the correct kit for the pump. There are also specialty flanges made by various companies that some find more comfortable.

In hot weather in particular you may find that sweating makes the skin sticky against the plastic causing some irritation from rubbing rather then sliding. A small amount of pure olive oil applied to your skin prior to pumping can aleviate this irritation.

The general guideline is to pump 8-10 times per 24 hours for about 15 minutes per session (never more then 20 minutes unless still free flowing and overly full). This should be similar to your one month olds feeding pattern and stimulate your breasts sufficiently to continue to produce sufficient milk (though many factors can affect milk supply). You state you are pumping 2-3 times per day but also imply that your son is not receiving any formula. You may have started with an over abundant milk supply (which may have contributed to latch issues and fussiness); even so most women who drop below 6 sessions in 24 hours will find their supply diminishing as the body interprets this as a signal that your child is weaning.

Also I recommend beginning at a low suction, if comfortable then increase the suction slowly but never above comfort level. Many women find their best flow and yeild occur slightly below maximum suction within comfort. Every woman is different, there is no goal to reach the maximum suction the pump allows. NEVER ABOVE COMFORT LEVEL PLEASE! I also suggest for each new session you drop it down some then increase to the level that works best for you. If you can only tolerate minimum then it is ok to stay there.

There are other issues that can cause pain with pumping such as yeast overgrowth, various skin disorders, Raynauds syndrome, and various other conditions. Any of these however are not pump specific so it would need to be a timing issue that had the symptoms occur only after you began pumping and not while breastfeeding.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have further questions.

I wish you all the best

K. H.

1 mom found this helpful

You may need to get a larger pair of breastshields for your pump (the part that you place on your breasts. As with nursing, you should get most or all of your areola inside the shield and not just the nipple itself. You might also try using lanolin before you pump to help minimize rubbing.

While it certainly is possible to exclusively pump, nursing directly from the breast is the best way to keep and maintain your supply. In another couple of weeks (when your baby is 6 weeks), then at 3 mos, and 6 mos your baby will have a growth spurt and it will be easier to build your supply for him if he is nursing directly. It is not too late at this point to get him back to the breast.

Have you consulted with a lactation consultant AND your local La Leche League leader? Even if you have never been to LLL, most leaders are very willing to help. Also, if your baby was pretty tiny now that his mouth is a bit bigger he may be able to latch better.

Please feel free to email me directly and I can see if I can help you. All major health organizations recommend to nurse/provide breastmilk as the primary source of nutrition until at least age 1, not 6 months. Formula increases the risks of illness, SIDS, and childhood obesity.

I congratulate you for providing your son with breastmilk.

Hi Summer,
I had this problem with my son. I saw a lactation specialist and that helped a lot. I used the Medela Pump-In-Style and had the settings to strong on suction and too fast. Once she helped me with the settings my nipples felt much better. You may want to take your pump to a lactation specialist and have them help you.

You may actually have a yeast infection. After my third child was born (he was probably a month old) I noticed that when pumping it hurt a lot, but not while nursing. Since I had breastfed and pumped with two other kids I knew it wasn't right but I had never had a yeast infection before. After a few more weeks it began hurting while nursing as well and I finally figured out I had a yeast infection. I'd ask your doctor.

It should go away. They probably became sore due to the latching issues. What were the latching issues? Did he not latch at all or did he latch wrong and cause a lot of pain. I had one of each. If he was latching wrong you can try again and if you can work through the pain, he will most likely be latching on correctly very soon. You just need to make sure he is getting enough of your breast in his mouth (not just the nipple and that his bottom lip is out, not tucked into his mouth. Now that he's older this will probably be easier for him. If you continue to pump I would suggest that you just try adjust the breast pump so that you get a comfortable suction. Unfortunately it takes a little while for the pain to go away. Also if your not already useing lanolin try a little, it can really help moisturize the nipples and heal them.

I pumped for 5 months since I had the same issue with not latching on (I've got gigantic nipples and his mouth was too small). Sorry if that's too much info- anyways, I always used lots of lanolin over my nipples after pumping and air dried as long as I could stand it. It helped out a lot!

HOWEVER, I would really try to go to a lactation consultant to have them help you latch your son on- it was really time consuming to pump and then feed. And it's much harder for your son to reattach after 6-8 weeks. Good luck!


Call La Leche League they can help you with breastfeeding issues. Good luck and congratulations on your baby!


I am dealing with the same situation. My 3 week old son and I are having latching on troubles, so he created a fissure on the nipple of one of my breasts. I began pumping on that breast only to give it some time to heal. I was using a small electric Evenflo pump which pulled very hard on my nipple.

I finally contacted a lactation specialist in my area who helped tremendously with alternative latches to use with my son while breastfeeding. She also provided very helpful and supportive advice on how to heal my fissue and suggested renting a quality pump to use in the mean time. (When told what pump I was using, she cringed and said no, no, no that one pulls too hard on your nipple and could cause tissue damage). I rented a Medela Lactina Select pump which is so much more effective and easier on the nipple than what I had been using. She also stressed the importance of pumping at least 4 times a day in order to keep up my milk supply. I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck!

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