48 answers

Shooting Pain in Breasts After Feeding/pumping

I've been breastfeeding for one month now and for the past week and a half, have been having shooting pains in my right breast after feeding or pumping. The pain comes inconsistently - sometimes from several times a day to just once every 2-3 days - and lasts for a few hours. It is shockingly painful, only occurs in one breast and only after feeding. I've talked with 2 lactation nurses and they've ruled out overactive let-down. Anyone else experience this - any ideas or solutions?

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So What Happened?™

Thank you ladies so much for all the kind words and support. This has been a tough week and I still don't have a concrete answer. I saw the lactation nurse at my hospital earlier in the week, who thought that it might be ductal thrush (neither my baby nor I had visible symptoms) and put me on diflucan. It seemed to alleviate the pain for the next few days, just as I was getting hopeful, but then the pain came back again full force after a 7am feeding this morning. I was literally bowled over from pain for the next 3 1/2 hours. I tried the warm compresses and the hot showers, massaging my breast in the shower, and nothing worked - the heat made it worse. I happened to have my 4-wk checkup today and all my doctor could tell me was that everything looks totally healthy and normal (no mastitis/blocked ducts/etc) and that it was probably just the nerves getting pinched from the ducts filling up. I could either tolerate the pain with midol or stop breastfeeding. She even did an ultrasound on my breast to make sure nothing was wrong. I am still stumped and plan to just try to hang in there for another few weeks, when my body is supposed to "regulate". I hope it goes away soon because I'm truly having a tough time hanging in with the breastfeeding - as much as I want to. Thanks again for all your help.

Featured Answers

This can be normal for many women. I had this with baby #1 for months...and then it stopped. It didn't happen at all with baby #2. I promise you it will subside...and it'll be totally worth it.

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I had this happen in one breast and after a couple of days the pain just persisted. It ended up being a clogged duct and the only thing to cure that (I was told) was to keep breastfeeding through the pain. I also took hot showers and massaged my breast. It eventually went away!

Have your doctors ruled out thrush? Sounds like thrush. If you are not sure after reading about the symptoms of thrush, try the mildest remedies first and see if it helps. Such as sun, breastmilk, or unrefined coconut oil. I used gentian violet and it worked great. Overnight relief and completely gone in 3 days or so. Here are some websites explaining more:

http://www.candida-cure-recipes.com/home-remedy-for-thrus...

http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/thrush.html

M.,

Yes!! I had this with my second but not my first. It will go away. I was told it was my let down. I know how you feel! Hang in there and once the supply/demand builds up it should be gone. It's been awhile but I want to say it went away when my son was about 11-12 weeks old.

Congrats on your new baby!
M.

I would actually go in to see a lactation consultant with your baby. Have them look at your breasts and the inside of your babies mouth in case you have thrush/yeast. Also have them look at how your baby latches on and your body positioning. They would also be able to determine if it's a plugged duct or mastitis pretty easily.

Most commonly though it is something easy to treat because it is a result of poor latch positioning or thrush. I had poor body positioning, plugged ducts and a little bit of yeast on my breasts (but DD never had thrush). After meeting a few times with a good LC, things got much better.

I also did the Gentian Violet for the yeast. It temporarily stained my nipples and my DD mouth, nose, and parts of her face. But in a few days it fades. Just becareful of your clothes, baby's clothes, etc. I just always kept a warm wash cloth nearby so I could wipe DD's face and my nipples after each feeding and after each application of GV.

S.

I too experienced this pain that you are describing. The pain, for me, started just before I got a blocked duct that turned into a mastitis which is an infection in your breast that causes pain, and flu like symptoms. Over all it is miserable. If the pain persists or you get a fever call your Doctor right away, you may need antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Best of Luck to you and congratulations on your baby.

Thrush could be your problem - it's a yeast infection, and often it shows up on the baby's tongue and mouth looking like patches of white yogurt. But sometimes it doesn't show, it just hurts the mom, in the way you describe. I had thrush while nursing my son and he never had the white patches in his mouth, but my nipples itched like mad and I had those shooting pains. You can try putting antifungal cream (stuff for athletes foot) on your nipples after feeding, eat lots of yogurt and "paint" the inside of your baby's mouth with yogurt, go to your doctor and request a prescription for Nystatin for youself and your baby, or try genetian violet (found OTC in walmart, riteaide, wherever) - this is the messiest solution, but it was the only one that worked for us! Good luck and don't give up nursing - it is the most rewarding relationship I had with my son as an infant and toddler!

I had the same thing and come to find out it was a yeast infection, my son got thrush, because I have too much yeast in my body. talk to your doctor about what is best for you to get rid of it.

I had the same problem with my 2nd baby but not with my 1st. I was so worried and searched night and day online for what it could be. I was mainly worried that it was an infection of some sort. My friend had a really serious infection (I forgot what she called it - started with an M) and thus, she had to be on antibiotics.

As for me, I can't really remember what I did (I don't think I went to the doctor because I remember wondering which doctor I had to go see - my OBGYN, my primary, my pediatrician, etc.), but I did take an extra care of the breast that was having shooting pains. I washed it carefully, and I put a lot of my breastmilk on it (since it has antibiotics). I may have even put neosporin (ha-ha-ha) on it!

But it can also be a plugged duct....Make sure there is no white patches or white small area on your nipple. That could mean a plugged duct or a yeast infection (which may lead to your baby having thrush).

I believe my problem eventually went away but it was such a TORTURE breastfeeding on that breast (I was crying and cringying). I just breastfed and breastfed to keep the milk flowing.

Hang in there and I hope you get a solution soon!

I had 'shooting' pain as well, during the first 3 or 4 months of breastfeeding my first baby. Even belonging to La Leche League, NO ONE (even my lactation nurse!)could associate it with my let-down! Everyone said 'let-down isn't painful'. Well, MINE WAS. Finally, a nurse practitioner had the SAME experience with both of her kids, so finally, after thinking I had thrush, (because that's the path the professionals sent me down)or some abnormality, I felt so much better. Now, it's diminished and the 'tingling' sensation during my let-down is what I now feel, the description I was given by other moms. It's true, as well, my pain was inconsistent-before feeding, after, or at least, at that point, I was so new at it, I couldn't quite tell. All I knew is that it hurt. I'd have to grip my breast(s) tightly during that time and just cringe. I didn't do anything but go through it. I knew that breastfeeding was not supposed to be painful the rest of my son's breastfeeding days, so I had to forge ahead. I knew the wonderful benefits for him far outweighed my discomfort, and boy did I go through some major discomfort. I think he was 6 months old by the time I said, "Okay, I've got this down!" He's 9.5 mos. now and I wouldn't trade our time together breastfeeding for anything--I am so glad we kept going and toughed it out. Give it some more time, M., I think you'll find it's worth it. I will pray for you:)

Oops, I forgot! I did do hot compresses and hot showers too--which helped somewhat, but when the pain happened, it wasn't always convenient! I also dealt w/ plugged ducts, and the feeling/pain is quite different than the 'shooting' pain.

It sounds like you might have a yeast infection in the milk ducts of your breast. I had this with my first baby and it felt like glass stabbing my breast during the feedings and after. My OB prescribed diflucan and I treated my baby for thrush (also a fungal infection) to make sure we didn't pass it back and forth. It was a frustrating time and took a few weeks to clear up. It's also advised to limit yeast/sugar in your diet. Lactation consultants are very knowledgeable about this, so see if they think might be a possibility. Good luck!

I did have that same thing happen to me when I breast fed and pumped! It was a plugged milk duct and it was very hard to determine that! I used very warm wash cloths and put them around my breast for hours! It was awful but really helped! I hope that helps you!

maybe a breast ifection (mastitis i think its called) which is clogged ducts and the only way to fix that is pumping or feeding to express the milk. i would say if you still have the pain in a few days to go back to your dr.

Hi M.. Well I have been breastfeeding now for 16months and in the beginning I had the same pain. Mine ended up being thrush. It was a deep shooting pain in my breast that hurt so much. Do you have any slight peeling of the nipple or itching. If so you might have it. Also if the baby has or had thrush at all, he/she could have given it to you. With me, I started taking brewers yeast to increase milk production and it back fired. All thrush is, is a yeast infection in the breast. Babies can have no symptoms at all so you would never know. My baby had white spots in her mouth so that tipped me off. We cured both of us with Gentian Violet that our midwife recommended. No prescription worked for either of us. Check into it and good luck.

Hi, M..

I've been breastfeeding for over eight months and during the first few months, I, too, was experiencing shooting pain in one breast. After awhile, it went away, but what helped alleviate some of the discomfort for me was applying heat either by warm compress or shower to my breast. All I can tell you is that it will subside over time and keep breastfeeding. I thought I could never get use to the sensations (pains)of breastfeeding, but eventually, you become accustomed to the feelings and you don't even notice.

You also might want to check with your doctor to see if maybe you have thrush. It's a yeast infection in the breasts that occurs when breastfeeding that can also cause shooting pain in the breast.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

No ideas or solutions, only a comment to let you know you arent alone. I have a 2 month old which is my 3rd child to nurse and with all three I have had intermitant shooting pains that sound similar to what you describe. I have no idea what it is but it doesnt seem to have any long term affects. Good luck and so sorry, hopefully it will let up....

Hi M.,
I did experience this and it turned out to be clogged mammary glands. Why the discomfort was not constant, I can't say. Keep drinking lots of water, use hot moist cloths to soothe, massage the area toward the nipple (be gentle)...before and after feeding or pumping. If it persists, see your doctor...

I had that for awhile and my ob figured that it was an infection. I only had it on my right side. It was an absolutely horrible shooting pain especially when I nursed and pumped. She prescribed me on antibiotics and within a day and a half it went away. Hope this helps.

Hi M.,
Sorry to hear that you are in pain.
I have four kids and breast fed each for a minimum of 2 years.
You should definitely go to your OB. From my personal experience it sounds like you might have a clogged milk duct.
It might bring you relief to massage the area while taking a hot shower. Also, the more I fed on that side the better it eventually got for me; since anytime my breast got engorged it made the problem worse. Try to pay attention to what brings it on. However, unless you see your OB it's impossible to say. It could vary from being nothing to a slight infection.
Good luck and good for you for breastfeeding!

IT'S YEAST...CANDIDA DEEP IN THE BREAST! I know exactly what you're talking about. I nursed my son through 7 months of pain before finding out what it was. basically i had the strep b antibiotic shot with the delivery of my son and in a nutshell this wiped out all good and bad bacteria (it does this all the time to whoever takes antibiotics...yuck!) anyway, at the time, my body also carried alot of yeast unbeknownst to me (this was my 3rd child at the time) so thrush started to form. i took the necessary measures, the vinegar/water solution, all the washing in hot hot water, boiling anything that touched baby's mouth...so terribly cumbersome...all the while, the yeast still flourished. i changed my diet, blah blah blah, then the cracks on my nipples started to come, bacteria got inside to the milk ducts, i got mastitis...well, "need antibiotics again..." it got worse, now deep breast pain WITH mastitis...on diflucan and recommends to take a 3rd antibiotic. i was at my end...my local lact. consultant could not even help me anymore.,..gentian violet helped a little with the outer pain but those deep pains continued. i called la leche league and finally got the answers #1:ALWAYS TAKE A PROBIOTIC, ESPECIALLY WHEN TAKING AN ANTIBIOTIC...IT BALANCES THE BODY'S NATURAL FLORA AND #2: 3 CLOVES OF RAW GARLIC A DAY MADE THE PAIN GO AWAY ALMOST IMMEDIATELY...something natural that no pill/medicine could replace. Since then i had another child...not so difficult nursing but every now and then got the pain...i ate garlic and it was gone. i sure wish you don't have to go through all that i did to solve your problem...but i SOOOO know what you are talking about.
Aloha, laulii in hawai'i

Could be thrush, ck with your Dr. Treatment is easy and it wouldn't hurt to try.

I had this very same problem! I was told it was just an inflamed nerve, but it felt like a searing hot wire from my nipple to my side. I continued nursing even though it was very painful on one side and the pain finally just went away. I will tell you that it took about 6 weeks and I know that that sounds llike forever, but nursing my baby was so important to me. I was able to nurse after that for many months. Good luck to you!

If difflucan made it better, then it's definitely thrush.
As you experienced, though, it will come back. The only thing that worked for me was to swab the baby's mouth and rinse my nipples with a 1 tsp baking soda to 8 oz water solution, and give it time. ... I know, it sucks! (Swab the baby's mouth using a q-tip.)

It could be thrush, a type of yeast infection. I had it with my 7 month old a few months ago. It's painful, but with diligence it has been alleviated. My lactation specialist said that even though the baby doesn't show signs of it, I could still have it.

You need to wash your nipples with a vinegar & water solution (made 1x every day with 1 tblspn vinegar to 1 cup water ratio) after every feeding (use a separate cotton ball for each nipple - don't let the cotton ball touch your nipple, just squeeze vinegar solution over it) & wash everything in hot water & sterilize everything that touches baby's mouth & milk, including pumping materials. You are to also put monistat cream (yes, monistat, it helps with the yeast infection)on your nipples 2x a day (use breast shields to help nipples dry naturally & when you have the monistat on them). Wash your nipples with a warm towel before feeding baby. Do this for 14 days. If it doesn't work or alleviate pain, call your doctor &/or your lactation specialist.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

I looked it up in my breastfeeding book ("The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers" by Dr. Jack Newman) and it might be Candida Albicans of the breast or nipples. It seems it's a type of yeast infection. I would talk with your OB/GYN for a correct diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Good luck.

Some women experience this as their breasts start filling back up with milk (which happens about a minute after feeding/expressing milk). Sometimes it could be from a plugged duct. It's probably nothing, but maybe you should tell your doctor about it, just to rule out that it's any cause for concern.

Could be thrush (yeast infection that both you and baby have).

I experienced pain in one breast when I was breastfeeding, as well. My pain was accompanied with nausea and a fever. It ended up that I had a breast infection. Milk ducts can get clogged and eventually get infected. It is not harmful at all to the baby, so don't worry about that. My doctor just gave me antibiotics that were safe to take while breastfeeding. It cleared up within a couple of days and it never happened again. If you have no other symptoms, then you may just have a duct that is getting clogged but it hasn't turned into an infection. To prevent ducts from getting clogged, you should make sure that your baby is latching on properly with your whole nipple in his/her mouth where your nipple is more or less pointing straight out. If your nipple is pointed too far downward, then the milk can't flow properly which causes clogs. Also, you should try to not let your breasts get engorged. That can cause clogs, as well. You can look up more information online regarding breast infections and clogs in milk ducts. I hope this helps!

Yes, I did have the same problem in the beginning. I think it is let down. It will go away. Just make sure it's not yeast infection. With yeast, it's usually pain in the nipple area along with whitish thick patches on your baby's tongue.

Make sure you use lansinoh breast cream after each nursing and after you shower because having dry milk ducts (tiny openings where the milk comes out on the nipple) can be painful! Did your doctor rule out mastitis? Does the breast that hurts have hard spots where the milk may be clogged and unable to be released from the breast? This could be the beginnings of mastitis. If so then try to express the milk in a hot shower. Let the hot water hit the hard sore area and then try to squeeze the milk out of the breast to relieve the pressure. If it does not improve over 2-3 days then see your OBGYN. Hope this helps.

Hi M.,
I am so sorry you are going through this- I had it toward the end of nursing my son and the pain was awful. It turned out that I had plugged ducts and a breast infection. My doctor prescribed antibiotics which did nothing, then another round of antibiotics which did nothing. I would try every remedy other than antibiotics that you can find first, because I am pretty convinced that antibiotics are not very successful at dealing with these infections- even if they are bacterial in nature (which I am not sure that mine was). I would try gentian violet as some others suggested, and if you have plugged ducts (will look like a white spot on your breast) I have heard that lecithin supplements help a great deal with that. Also drink a lot more water than you did before you were feeding two. I think this was another of my problems. Then- a lot of rest if you can. I hope to hear that you were able to get through this- as, I ended up weaning my son because I couldn't solve the issue and got some of my information too late. I will send you some healing thoughts.
S.

Ii have totally ben there! My symptoms were just like that, and it hurt!
It turns out, i had thrush. ( common after a c section because they give you antibiotics, but you can get it from other scenarios ) I tried to go the natural route and take probiotics, and caprylic acid, but it was not strong enough, my Dr put me on a prescription. in my case It didn't totally go away untill I stopped nursing even with the medicine...but it was a relief to have the shooting pains gone.
Do a google search on thrush and see if it sounds like you....Your OB or a lactation consultant should be able to help you more.
Good luck and hang in there!! Nursing was the best thing I did for my 2 girls!

It sounds like you may have a yeast infection. I am a lactation consultant and this is how it is often described. have someone see about treating you and your infant for this. There are more than one remedy. Tincture of violet is one. And Nystatin is another. The latter requires a prescription. Ask your doctor, or nurse practitioner. L.

Hi M., Does it feel like a deep itch also? I had those symptoms with my 4th and 5th children. It was yeast infection in my breasts. The prescribed Diflucan and Gentian Violet ( I believe that is over the counter and very cheap!). It staines everything especially the babies mouth. Talk to your OB GYN also. Good Luck.
W.

I had this! I have four sons, and breast fed the last three. With the last baby, it was a PAINFUL experience for the first 3 months. WOW! Was it painful! Shockingly painful, as you say. I stopped pumping and only nursed, and that helped a bit with the after pain, but only time really made it go away. The three months of weird pain was totally worth it in the end. I went on to have 20 more months of pain free nursing with that child. Persevere! Don't stop! Keep it up and you will be very glad you did.

nursing at the keyboard, so forgive my typing. i remeber that happenin when my little was really young, esp. around growth spurts. i think it has to do with increasing milk supply - they're like 'refilling' pains, know what i mean? it goes away after a while, much like letdown pains ease after a while. is your right breast the more active of the 2?

I had a similar problem when I was pumping or BFing. I did get clogged ducts a few times and that was a constant sharp pain with an obvious lump. When I'd get the irregular pains like you, I made sure to pump at a stronger setting and massage while pumping to help get the milk through any possible lumps or clogs trying to form. This helped a lot. I hope it works for you too.

Hot compress, and see your dr. Good luck wish I could help more.

Your gynecologist cold tell you, it sounds like mastitis, you may need an antibio

M.

It sounds like it could be an infection. The very worse thing you can do is to stop nursing on that side. You need to contact the Le Leche League.....they will have the answer.
R.

I have had this also. I have 4 kids I have breast fed and totals 8 1/2 years. It goes away in 4-6 weeks. I think it is your nervous system or muscular system getting use to the manufacturing milk / holding baby for so long in one position.
Do not be discouraged... It is the most important gift you can give your baby.

I had this problem with my second child and gave up breastfeeding because the pain was so awful and noone could figure it out. Didn't have it with my first. Had a third and started getting it again. This time the lactation specialist had heard about it from some other women. The problem is not getting that breast emptied all the way. So the simple suggestion was to always nurse on that side first, so your baby is really hungry and empties it completely. I don't know how it will work with a pump, maybe pump a little longer than necessary on that side. I went on to use this technique with my fourth and never had the problem, then I had twins, and well, getting my breasts both emptied was not a problem. But the pain was horrible, sort of a shooting burning pain, and only in one side. Hope this helps. I just read the other posts, yes, I also have had mastitis, you will feel like you have the flu not just pain in your breast. I've had a baby with thrush, the nipple hurts really bad but not so much down in the breast, and I've had a clogged duct and you can feel the lump so you need to nurse more on that side while massaging the lump at the same time. But if you just have pain, that comes and goes, see if when you nurse that side first it doesn't happen, then you'll know that it is the problem I've described. Not a medical expert, but nursed six babies, so I've pretty much seen it all.

I had very sharp pains with my second child and saw a lactation specialist who said it was my nerves being damaged from him being latched on incorrectly. We changed his latch and the healing began. I can't remember how long it took to stop hurting but it was pretty soon after fixing his latch.

M.,

go to www.kellymom.com and search for "thrush" and "mastitis" If you have either of those, treat it and you'll feel better. I've had some shooting pains in my boobs with both of my kids. But it shouldn't last for hours. I'd definitely see your OB to rule out plugged ducts or some sort of infection.

Good luck,
T.

Hi M.,

I had the same thing when I nursed. I had it with both of my babies. I always would get in the warm shower and rub my breasts in a circular motion. Honestly it would happen when there was a bit of a clog in my milk duct. I know it hurts but heat always helps when breast feeding. It breaks up anything and will give you relief. Even a hot water bottle works. I hope this helps and hang in there. Nursing is hard but it is such and awesome thing.

Hi M.,
I too had shooting pains after nursing or pumping, but it did go away after about 2 weeks. It never turned into something bad, but if it keeps up you may want to check with your ob.
Good luck,
S.

Have you considered mastitis? Or some sort of breast infection? you should talk to your doctor instead of a nurse. He/she will know more.

This can be normal for many women. I had this with baby #1 for months...and then it stopped. It didn't happen at all with baby #2. I promise you it will subside...and it'll be totally worth it.

Could you have thrush? That type of pain is a sign of thrush. Just to rule it out, I would take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in water a couple of times each day and make a paste out of it, or apple cider vinegar and put it on your nipples.

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