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!

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!

This isn't right-- I pumped 2-3 days and did not have sore nipples and pumped successfully until he was a year old. Try a different sized shield, and a different type shield.

Hi Summer, breast feeding can be so difficult and their is so much to know. I highly recommend talking to a lactation consultant.I went to one when my son was small and she helped me with so many things. First she diagnosed my little guy as being tounge tied then helped me with low production issues; And educated me on proper pump usage.You may just need something as little as new larger pump attachments. And that is not something most stores carry. John Muir womens health center in walnut creek is an amazing resource. They not only have amazing consultants but a free breast feeding support group that meets weekly. It is about 100 bucks to meet with a consultant but so worth the investment. If you are not close to walnut creek ask your ob for a recommendation. And dont forget about la leche league. I think they will come to your house. good luck and dont give up, D.

Are you releasing the pump suction every so often? There are two air hole on the top, that is so the suction will be released, and you won't get so sore. Hold your fingers over them, then move your fingers. Also, doing this will help your motor last longer, I burned out two pumps because I was not doing this. A lactation consultant finally told me what to do.

If he's a month old, you're surely feeding him more than 2-3 times a day, so you should be pumping more than that (or feeding him at your breast). Marathon pumping sessions are bound to hurt; unless I misunderstood something, y suggestions are to either pump more often (for 7-10 minutes a breast every 2-4 hours) or consult a lactation expert to help with latch issues, and feed him the old-fashioned way. Breastfeeding is hard work! Good luck! (...and there are worse things than feeding a baby formula before 6 mos. Don't beat yourself up if that's the route you take!!)

Because of my son's issues, he was never able to breastfeed so I have pumped from birth till now, (he is 7 months old). I di dhave pain early on due to the flange being way too small. Also, I noticed you wrote that you pump 2-3 times per day. I was taught by my lactation consultant to pump 8 times per day, trying to do it every 3 hours. You should pump till empty at the beginning to increase milk supply but then settle down to a 15-20 minute pump each time. I now have dropped my pumping to 6 times per day. Also, watch the strength of the machine that you are using for pumping. Your setting might be too high. As for milk supply, I am unable to make the amount of milk my son needs to eat per day, so I suppplement with formula. My son's diet is probably 30% formula and 70% breastmilk.

All the best!

Make sure the "cups" that you place on your breasts are large enough that the nipples don't rub on the sides painfully. If the ones that came with your pump are too small you shoould be able to get larger ones. Medela I know has several sizes. Also some lubrication with lanolin breast ointment can be very helpful. Hang in there!

Hi Summer,

I have a preemie baby and she is not able to latch as well for the past 2 months, I have been exclusively pumping her. Now that we have reached her term date I have been working with a lactation consultant to get her to breastfeed. First of all they are extremely useful, even if to just help you with why your nipples are so sore from pumping. It could be a yeast infection on the breasts which is totally common. If your nipples are red and you have shooting pains when you pump. Good luck with everything and I do agree with the previous people who posted, you should be pumping 7-8 times a day to get your supply up.


I am so glad to read that U want to nurse ur baby . I have twins, a girl and a boy who just turned 3 yrs old.I pumped and exclusively gave them my milk.
They were too small and weak to latch on and then the bottle was easier for them to drink from.
However coming to the point brave Mom, check out the size of the cup. Other sizes r also available. check out the brand store eg. Medela. Or msybe a store where they deal in lactation issues. U never know who might b able to help. Also check out ur local hospital.

It worked for me, so I hope it works for U 2.

All the best,

Have you considered expressing your milk by hand?
That is how I did. You can be a lot more gentle to yourself.
It is easy once you get the technique down, and you only need
bottles and no other equipment.
Contact me if you want to know more about it.

Hi Summer,

As a Lactation Consultant I strongly urge you to find someone in your area who can take a look and see just what is going on. There can be a few things happening: flanges too small, thrush, eczema, residual irritation from latch issues with baby and lastly the type of pump you are using. All of these things can make a huge impact on what is happening with your nipples.

For the sore nipples I do not recommend vaseline (petroleum based product, no healing properties and can increase risk of infection), neosporin (dermatologists do not recommend this at all due to increases in allergic response in patients), lanolins (no healing properties and can be painful to apply). I recommend the following: Polysporin (double antibiotic ointment), All Purpose Nipple Ointment (search Jack Newman APNO to find the recipe - easy to make with polysporin, hydrocortisine and miconozole), or Motherlove Nipple cream - certified organic and does help with healing.

As far as the latch issues with your baby, again, I urge you to find a good Lactation Consultant in your area who can help you discover WHY you were having such issues. Breastfeeding should NOT hurt or be such a challenge. Breastfeeding directly is certainly easier and more convenient than pumping and bottle feeding - but you need to not hurt while nursing! :)

Lastly, You should be using a hospital grade pump to do what you are doing. You should also be pumping at least 8 times per 24 hours to maintain a healthy milk supply. If you are only pumping 2-3 times (which I can understand with the pain you are having) your supply will not last until your baby is 6 months old.

Please feel free to call me if you like for more information. I can help you find someone in your area who can help you...I am so sorry you are having these challenges...I know what you are going through - I went through something similar with baby #2 - he is why I am a Lactation Consultant...

Good luck!


J. Simpson, IBCLC, CIIM


Try larger cups so your areola isn't in contact w/ the funnel. Medela also sells soft cups--much more comfortable than the hard cups the pump comes with.
When I switched to pumping after returning to work, I found myself at Babies R Us buying these soft cups that very first day. Made SUCH a difference and they conform to your breast over time.
Good luck. Pumping all day is quite a sacrifice for your baby, but a worthwhile one. I thought I was going to lose my mind as my coworkers constantly knocked on my door and I had to be late to meetings so I could get my afternoon pumping session in...but my daughter has had only 2 colds in her 26 months of life. All that work and inconvenience surely pays off :)

Hi Summer,

I had a very early preemie and had to pump for months. I pumped six or seven times a day with a hospital grade pump and never experienced any nipple soreness. I would definitely call your doctor. I'm sure whatever ails you is not uncommon, but I think that having nipples that sore without having some sort of issue going on is uncommon. There were always lots of NICU moms pumping away in the pumping room who pumped 5+ times per day, and I don't recall any of them mentioning sore nipples. I'm sure your doc will know what is going on and be able to alleviate your pain.


You might have a slight candida (aka thrush or yeast) infection. That causes some mighty nipple pain, but it's more usual with women who nurse.

Talk to your LC or your pediatrician about what might be causing it, especially if it's come on suddenly.

Good luck!!

Anytime I pumped a lot for my son, I also got sore nipples-due to the electric pump setting being too high and/or the suction being too strong. Otherwise try the nipple guard (you can get this at babies r us) for better latching. To help with the soreness, I'm sure you've been told to have some of your breastmilk coat your nipple. That helped me too. Good luck!

Dear Summer,
I know exactly what you are going through, pain wise.
I never pumped, I nursed from the breast. In the first place, no one told me that 3 days after my baby was born my boobs were going to suddenly become so huge that I did not own one single article of clothing big enough to fit around them. I had to raid dad's closet. I weighed 133 when I gave birth and I had gained 30 pounds, but nothing could have prepared me for the agony of my breasts getting that big. I was in misery. And all that extra weight in the front killed my back. I tried pumping, but it hurt too much. The only thing that gave me relief was getting in a hot shower and just letting the milk fly. I was so engorged, my daughter couldn't latch on. After I got things levelled out in that area a bit, then came the other problem. My nipples got so sore that I just cried and cried everytime I had to feed my daughter. My mom told me that it was going to hurt until my nipples toughened up, and she was right. (It happened with my son too, but at least I was prepared for it the second time).

Honey, just hang in there. You've got a new, new little son and your boobies will "toughen up". It doesn't last forever. Applying and ice pack always gave me some relief from the pain in general. But I would suggest relaxing with an ice pack just before you pump. Ice can be a natural way to numb your nipples somewhat and help get you through until your breasts are a little more accustomed to the routine.

Good luck, and don't give up just yet.

Contact a lactation nurse and try to go back to breastfeeding. It is much easier!

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


Try getting Lanolin by Lansinoh. It is strictly for nursing/pumping nipples and it will soothe them. You can continue to nurse/pump with the ointment on there. It is all natural and safe for baby. When I started nursing by 2nd baby I didn't know about this cream, and I was cracked, and bleeding and blistered. Someone had recommended it and it was the miracle cream. In 2 days everything was gone and my nursing experience went on pleasantly for 1 year. Stick with it and try the Lanolin. Good stuff.


Jaye offered you wonderful advice. However, she says that your nipples should not hurt. I don't think that is always true (but you still want to meet with a lactation consultant and make sure all is well). I worked with a lactation consultant and made sure that I was doing everything right and my nipples still really hurt for the first 6 weeks. The combination that really seemed to help me was lansinoh cream with soothies gel pads alternating with the hard plastic Medela nipple cages, which gave my nipples a chance to breathe and to not touch anything. I wanted to give up to, but I am sooooooooooooooooooo glad that I didn't. I am so glad that I made it through that first tough time, because my nipples did toughen up and breastfeeding is so easy and so wonderful.

I had the same problem and a friend of mine got me these things called Soothies. They come two in a pack and last for days. You don't have to refrigerate them but they feel cool every time you put them on. You can also try putting on lansinoh after you pump. I am sorry to tell you but the pain never got better for me and I chose to stop at 6 weeks and switch to formula, hopefully you are tougher than me. Stick to it because as we all know breastmilk is best (and cheaper, trust me).

I think you got some great advice from Jaye... The only thing I would add is to try using those "soothie gel pads" in the meantime while you're waiting for an appointment to help soothe the pain. I didn't pump exclusively or having pain like you describe after pumping but when i did have issues with latch and pain after the baby being at the breast, those gel pads were such a life saver. i am sure they only had them at wal mart when i was nursing but i think they have them at BRU now and maybe even target got them by now. for sure, you can call some pharmacies to see if they have them. i know the pharmacy (star care in salinas) has them where my MIL works.

Hi Summer,
My son had latching issues, and I was advised to stick it out and keep trying (along with nipple sheilds - they were great) because at 6 weeks he is a different baby. They were right too, at 6 weeks he latched with very little effort on my part. I had to use nipple sheilds because my nipples are sort of flat and he had a hard time recognizing there was a nipple in his mouth. After week 8 or 9 he refused to nurse with at nipple sheild.
I also consulted with a lactation specialist and a La Leche League Leader during this time for support and advice.
So don't give up, there is a support network for bf mommy's, and this site has lot's of helpful mom's.

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.

Your funnels may be too small. You can buy the funnel attachments with larger openings. This may help relieve some of the pain.

and make sure your nipples dry completely before you pack them away, give them time to breathe.
Have you tried a nipple shield? I used one of thoes when my son was having latch on problems too. a nipple shield is a piece of plastic you wet and put on your nipples and it pretty much turns your boob into a bottle. i know that medela makes them, i've seen them at target near the lanolin (you can get both at the same time!) make sure you put it on properly or else it wont work. keep trying with the brestfeeding, there is nothing like NOT having to get up and heat up a bottle in the middle of the night while the baby is screaming. Don't get me wrong, i pump and bottle feed in public. But there is nothing like feeding from the breast.
My favorite part of breastfeeding is it gives me privacy with my baby when people come over and hog him up (in laws)

Stop pumping for a bit and take hot showers gently massaging your breasts then when you bget out bend over with a couple bottles and let the milk drip out into the bottle. I did this after getting tired of all this milk pouring out on my feet as I bent over to dry off and the light went on in my head that told me I could catch it and not need to pump.

You are almost certainly setting the pumping level too high. If you pump too hard it will hurt your nipples and your breasts. Go slowly and let it take a little longer and it won't hurt so much.

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