32 answers

Starting Breastfeeding How Long Does It Hurt?

Just a simple question how long is it painful and you want to scream when you first start nursing?

What can I do next?

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It took me about 3 weeks, but I think there may have been some thrush involved too. I don't know if anyone else mentioned this, but in addition to before and after feeding, I applied Lansinoh before showering, so that the soap wouldn't dry out the sensitive skin even more. It was really helpful. Good luck!

If it's really REALLY painful and you're latching on correctly, and doing all the right things, it could be a case of the very rare condition of Raynaud’s Disease. You can learn more about it at http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com/2009/09/ask-an-lc-a...

Good luck!

Use the Lanolin stuff before and after each breastfeeding, and it will help. I had to be 'religious' about the stuff though - not just every once in a while.

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You might want to see a lactation specialist to make sure your little one is latched on right.... however I have a 16 month old and a 2 week old and with both of them it did hurt for a few weeks. Just that initial latch was brutal and then it kinda starts to ease.
When people say is shouldn't hurt if the baby is latched on right- I think they are full of it. No matter what it will hurt in the beginning. It is a tender area for crying out loud.
My now 2 week old and I are doing pretty well. The pain is pretty much gone and I imagine in the next week it will be totally gone. I think it is also key that the more often you have the baby feed the sooner it will stop hurting. Just keep at it :)
You certainly have your hands full! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My midwife told me that if it hurts when the baby first latches on, but goes away after a minute or so, that is normal. But if it hurts all the way through a feeding, that is a sign of something else wrong like a bad latch or thrush or something, and you should seek help.

In my experience - I'm nursing baby #4 - it will go away in about 2 weeks. And I second everyone's advice about using Lansinoh. There are also products like Soothies and such that will help reduce the friction on your nipples in between feedings.

Hang in there!

I remember the pain lasting several days, if not a week or so. If the pain is the entire breast due to massive "let down", then you need to take a warm shower and massage your breasts to get the milk to flow out and release some of the pressure.
Use the pinkie method to un-latch the baby and also use the lanolin cream -- it works. Deep breaths and relax. It doesn't hurt with the second baby.

It always hurt me at the beginning. It was so painful it would make my toes curl for the first few seconds for probably about a week. After that it was still a bit painful for 3-4 weeks - getting gradually better the whole time. I just used a ton of Lansinoh - it helped a ton. Hang in there!

I'd say about 2-3 weeks. That is assuming that you're doing it correctly. If the latch hasn't been good you have likely been injured, causing your nipples to bleed and develop scabs and callouses. If that is the case, you need to have a lactation specialist help you fix the latch. Then it will continue to hurt until the nipples have had a chance to heal.

Don't give up. It gets better. Get help if you need it.

All the latching advice in the world didn't help me. It hurt for a good 6 weeks.

It took me about 3 weeks, but I think there may have been some thrush involved too. I don't know if anyone else mentioned this, but in addition to before and after feeding, I applied Lansinoh before showering, so that the soap wouldn't dry out the sensitive skin even more. It was really helpful. Good luck!

My son latched on correctly and it was about 2 weeks before it stopped but after the first week it was bearable. The lanolin does help alot but it stains so be careful.

I was right there with you 2 months ago. Because I had breastfed 3 previous times before I assumed I was a pro but I still had difficulty this last time around. I guess she wasnt latching quite as far as she should have and I had to try some latch holds that I forgot about to help her get a proper latch at first. I found my nipples very sore and even had a blister and scabs that hurt so bad I wanted to scream! The worst part was that I just couldnt get it to heal. I even used the nipple cream and didnt find it to help much as every time she latched on it seemed to reverse the healing that I might have had going on. I found some Hydrogel pads that were a LIFESAVER. They were a little pricey ($15 for 4) but I would cut them in half and then they lasted longer. It was also a little more work as you had to wash of your breast before you fed, but let me tell you after the first use I felt so much better and was completely healed in a few days! Feel free to e-mail me if you need anymore advice or info. Good luck! It does get better.

My MIL told me that if you make it the first two weeks, you're set. That was true for me. Day 12 or 13, i was ready to give up, but I told myself to stick it out until 14, and it magically was a lot easier! Then I didn't have any pain or problems after that.

One thing I learned is to use Lansinoh EVERY TIME, not just when it hurts. You don't even have to wipe it off. I tried to stretch the hospital samples because I thought it was too expensive to buy, but it's worth its weight in gold. Best thing ever! My MIL didn't have Lansinoh when she had her kids. She says that she always had 2 weeks of hard times, with each kid (she had 5), but after I learned my Lansinoh lesson, my second kid was a breeze. I had no cracks, and only mild irritation sometimes.

I'm a believer!

Done it 3 times- most recently this summer. It definitely takes 3-6 weeks before I stop wanting to SCREAM when my baby latches on. At 3 weeks, things are MUCH better! Hang in there!

If it's really REALLY painful and you're latching on correctly, and doing all the right things, it could be a case of the very rare condition of Raynaud’s Disease. You can learn more about it at http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com/2009/09/ask-an-lc-a...

Good luck!

Use the Lanolin stuff before and after each breastfeeding, and it will help. I had to be 'religious' about the stuff though - not just every once in a while.

I think the answer may be slightly different for every woman. For me, it was about 2 weeks the first time, about a week the second. Both of my kids latched on with vacuum-cleaner strength. For one of my friends, it hurt like hell for about a month, and then she discovered a different position for feeding (held her daughter more-or less upright in a sitting position) and the pain instantly eased. You may want to experiment with different nursing positions and see if it helps.

I know the beginning is ouchy (I used swear words I don't think my spouse even realized I knew) but I hope you will choose to stick with it. It does stop hurting.

Oh, I remeber those days as if it were yesterday! I nursed all 3 kids and with each kid it was the first month that really was painful. Then it will slowly go away but it's totally worth it. With the first 2 I used Bag Balm and applied it liberally, however you have to wash it off before nursing because of the medications in it. The last baby I finally gave in and bought some Lansinoh cream it was expensive but it was awesome I didn't have to wash it off or anything and it seemed to heal quicker. By the way I still have at least 1/2 a bottle left for the future. Goodluck and hang in there!

amen on the last post--I had so many people tell me that if it hurt I was doing it wrong I wanted to bite their heads off..finally talked to my mom, who had 13 kids and she said hers always hurt in the beginning. close friends same...(it was always the unsolicited advice givers that said if it hurt I was wrong)just just wanted to say hang in there it does get better. I would use warm cloths to help with my let down before I started to nurse and while nursing plus it helped with the pain and if it did hurt too bad I could pick the cloth up and bite on it while I fed my dd. then used cold packs when she was done for the first few weeks. also used the lansinoh lanolin cream.
it seems expensive but we were still using the big tube for scrapes etc. when my dd was 2. so it lasts a long time.
hang in there.

I agree with Kimberlee. It will hurt to some degree at first. I'm allergic to lanolin so I found a lanolin free product that gerber makes at Babies R Us that worked for me. With my first, I used it for about the first month; with my second, I only needed it for about a week. A correct latch helps minimize the pain. Our hospital had lactation consultants on staff that came round to the new moms. This happened less with my second baby, so check with your hospital to see if this is available and request it.

Also look into a breast feeding class before baby comes. I didn't do this and wish I had before my first.

Hi A.,
I thought it would hurt for awhile and it didn't I found when I saw a specialist it was hurting because I needed help getting the baby to latch correctly. Once we found our groove it has been a great bonding tool for both of us. The biggest advice I could give is to make sure they are not latching at the end they need to get a good mouth full if you know what I mean. Your nipples might be sore and itchy for a little bit but I think mine went away in about 2 weeks. You can apply stuff to them that they sell at target and it works wonders. Let me know if you need the name of the cream. It is found in the baby isle with all the breast feeding equipment there. Hope that helps.

The nurses at the hospital had me put cooled, not cold, steeped tea bags on my nipples after feedings (red rose, tetley, orange pekoe), it helped ease the pain and heal any cracks (let dry after you take it off and then wash before feeding). I also used lansinoh, that saved me. You can also expel some milk rub it on and let it dry on your nipples. There is alot of natural healing agents in breast milk and it really helps ease the pain of sore nipples for the first few weeks. Whenever I could be I was topless to let them air but I never leaked either not even once... I know I mentioned that to my friends and most said that they would have had to wash down the whole house if they did that. lol..kinda funny how different experiences can be. Best of feeding luck to you you and your little one! Congrats!
Mom of 4

It shouldn't hurt, it might be very strong but no pain..... If there is pain her latching is having some problems. Call me or PM me and we can go through it if you like.

A.- I feel your pain! My nipples hurt so bad when I first started breastfeeding. I used Lanolin cream--they sell it in the baby aisles everywhere. I can't remember the brand but it's in a purple tube. It works wonders-hang in there it usually only hurts for a week or two (I know it seems like longer!)it is so worth it! Take a deep breath let out a small whimper and latch him on.

it hurts for at least 3 weeks, maybe longer. even several months later, sometimes i would get sensitive again for a few weeks. i'm sorry...hang in there...it's worth it.

My baby is 6 months old and the best advice I got was from the lactation specialists at the hospital. "It should never hurt. If it hurts, something is not right." Call your local lactation specialist, I'm very serious. They are great ladies and they'll help your baby latch on properly, even when it seems like it is all going fine there can be something not quite right.

And the two of you will get the hang of it sooner or later. Keep trying!


I always tell people to give it 3 weeks. If it's still hurting it may be that the baby is not latching on correctly!

With both of my kids, the nipples were sore and cracked for a couple of weeks.

Make sure you are releasing the latch by sticking your pinkie in your child's mouth to release the suction BEFORE removing the child from breast. Always make sure s/he opens her mouth vs dragging the nipple out.

Express a little milk on your nipples after feeding and let this air dry. Breastmilk has lubricant and anesthetic qualities, so doing this will keep your nipple from sticking to your bra and will help heal any chaffing from the sucking.

Get some gel pads to cover your nipples. There is a type by medela called "smoothies". I loved these refrigerated!!

If you are cracked and bleeding or your let down really hurts like needles or either you or the baby had antibiotics in the hospital, you could develop or have developed thrush. That sweet milk is delicious to yeast. If you aren't healing, talk to your pediatrician or lactation consultant (or send me a private message) - as you might need to use an antimicrobial lotion on your nipples between feedings. (Sounds weird, but you'd spread miconizole cream - yes, the active ingredient in monistat and athlete's foot cream - on your nipples after every feeding. Your pharmacy might be able to advise on this as well.)

If the pain is too much, and especially if you have bleeding or cracks, pump every other feeding or for a day or two until you feel better. You can't continue nursing if it hurts, and you need to figure that out and then worry about nipple confusion, etc. I had to go as long as 4 days just pumping and feeding my daughter from a bottle in order to heal, and we had no resulting issues with nipple confusion.

I swear this becomes pleasurable in about 3 months. It will stop being painful after 2 weeks from birth.... All of that seems like so long when you are in it, but it goes by fast, and you'll be so happy if you keep it up. And if you can't continue to breastfeed, you'll be happy, too.

Good luck!

Personally, I think the WORST advice the "lactation specialists" give is "if you're doing it right, it shouldn't hurt." That is complete and total bunk! I have breastfed all four of my children for 12 months each. My sister-in-law has breastfed all of her 3 children for nearly 2 years each. We both know the correct way to position an infant, but guess what? Breastfeeding hurts at first. The skin on your nipples isn't used to being wet for nearly four hours out of the day, nor are they used to be pulled on by a mini-hoover for 4 hours out of every day. That takes some getting used to. Your nipples are extremely sensitive and have a high concentration of sensory receptors for a reason. However, it does take a few weeks for that skin to get used to the new circumstances (being wet and pulled on).

Yes, incorrect latch-on can cause pain. However, it takes some time for the skin on your nipples to toughen up. Think about it, when you first mow your lawn or rake the leaves, or go walking/running, your hands/feet get sore. Once you have some callouses in those areas that are being rubbed, the pain goes away.

Sorry I rambled, I just hate that statement about "it shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right." Give your body a few weeks (like the other ladies said, 3 sounds about right) and your nipples will "toughen up" to the challenge. I also recommend using lansinoh--best stuff ever for nursing mommies.

I would just like to add that your local La Leche League can be a great resource. And not just about breast feeding, I have learned lots of great parenting ideas from them as well! :) You can get more info at llli.org

It shouldn't hurt if you have a good latch and using chapstick for boobs, such as Lansinoh! I recommend getting a consultant from the La Leche League or other lactation consultant. Without receiving any assistance it hurt for about 7 weeks for me. Usually breastfeeding is always smoother after the first 6 weeks.

Good luck!

Hey, A.--
I hope things are starting to get better and you're able to uncurl your toes after your baby latches! You can find your local La Leche League contact at www.llli.org. All their services are free-including free telephone help from accredited Leaders. LLL saved my sanity as a new mom--I highly recommend contacting them with any breastfeeding questions.
Hang in there! And congrats on your growing family!

When I had my 3rd in May, I was shocked at how much it hurt! I didn't remember it hurting at all w/ the 1st two. Anyway, it was about 1 week of really painful and 1 week of tender and now we're totally pain free. Also, even when it was painful, it only hurt right when he latched on- less than 2 min of pain each side, but it was every feeding. Pain could also be related to mastitis or poor latch. I guess it depends on how long the pain lasts.

Make an appt w/a lactation consultant at your hospital you delivered at, or call La Leche League. You shouldn't be wanting to scream (I don't think so anyway), something doesn't sound right. Maybe you gave birth to a Hoover, but there are ways to ease that pain as well.
I had a Hoover the second time around & I found that feeding more often kept him from sucking too hard. I wasn't in pain though, just discomfort-sometimes extreme. My only pain was when I went too long between feedings & had rocks in my bra.
Call LLL & see what they recommend.
Good luck!
*reading everybody else's responses, I guess I was really lucky! I had discomfort, but never any pain.

I would concur with what has already been said. Another method I also found helpful was using the Medela nipple shields. They cost about $12-$15 at any breastfeeding store. They come with a few parts but I used the dome shape with the holes in it snapped onto the rings inside my nursing bra and a breastfeeding pad on the outside of the dome. This helped keep my nipples dry and I got over the cracking and bleeding much faster. It was suggested to me by one of my nurses but unfortunately not until I had my third of four children.

Also, FWIW, I have fair skin and reddish colored hair---my nurse and doctor told me that people with that combination have much more sensitive skin for breastfeeding and bleed easier.

But putting all this aside, it was so much worth it for me and no one can take that wonderful time I had with each of my kids---I'll treasure it forever, even though the first 2-4 weeks were a little bit of an adjustment.

And lastly, I was glad to see none of the other posts said that if it hurts you are doing it wrong---That's what all the books said when I started breastfeeding and if you have heard that too, don't believe it. It's normal if you have some discomfort as you and the baby adjust but as the other posts said if it continues, get checked out. BTW, Motrin helps too. :0)

Best wishes.

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