Chest Hurts While Feeding - Why? What To Do?

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Video: Chest Hurts While Feeding - Why? What To Do?

Video: Chest Hurts While Feeding - Why? What To Do?
Video: Causes of breast pain during breast feeding and its management - Dr. Shaheena Athif 2023, March
Chest Hurts While Feeding - Why? What To Do?
Chest Hurts While Feeding - Why? What To Do?

Chest hurts while feeding - why? What to do?

Immediately after the birth of a child, close contact is established between him and the mother. Breastfeeding helps to strengthen the relationship, but sometimes it happens that these wonderful moments can be overshadowed by sudden pain in the area of the mammary glands. You should not ignore it, you need to understand the causes of uncomfortable sensations and get rid of them.

Perhaps the pain is only a signal that the breast is adapting to a state that is unusual for it. However, sometimes the soreness is provoked by much more serious reasons that require treatment.


  • Causes of breast pain when feeding
  • How to avoid pain while breastfeeding?

Causes of breast pain when feeding

Breast hurts when feeding
Breast hurts when feeding

Physiological causes of pain

Throughout the entire period of gestation, the mammary gland undergoes certain changes designed to prepare it for the upcoming lactation. The breast swells, the skin on the nipples becomes darker, and the first colostrum may appear even during pregnancy. After childbirth, the processes of restructuring the body are launched in full force. The hormones prolactin and oxytocin are produced. They contribute to the production of milk that replaces colostrum. It is during this period that young mothers begin to experience discomfort in their breasts, which are sometimes quite strong.

There may be several reasons for this:

  • The milk arrives very quickly. Women describe this condition as a feeling of breast swelling, possibly a tingling sensation in the mammary gland. Mothers with increased skin sensitivity may already complain of pain.
  • The skin on the surface of the nipples is very delicate, so it can be painful for an infant to latch onto the breast. For the same reason, microtrauma in the form of cracks may appear on the nipples. While sucking, the baby "grinds" the nipple, but it may take at least 2 weeks until the sensitivity decreases.
  • Milk rush. From the moment of the beginning of lactation to its full formation, it can take 3 months. At this time, milk leakage and breast flushes are not excluded. At such moments, a woman may experience painful sensations not only in the mammary gland, but also in the lower abdomen, as well as in the nipple area. After 3 months, the body will develop a reflex that will regulate the flow of milk at a specific time. If you can't feed your baby, you can express some milk to lighten the breast. Although it is not recommended to break the developed feeding regime.

  • Nipple shape. Pain can occur because a woman has inverted, flat or very large nipples, which makes it difficult to grasp them normally.
  • The onset of menstruation. The restoration of the menstrual cycle after childbirth is always accompanied by discomfort in the area of the mammary glands. They can also be slightly painful at the beginning of the cycle until the time of ovulation.

When a woman puts the baby to the breast at his request and does it often, the discomfort is quickly eliminated. It is imperative to ensure that the crumb correctly captures the dismount. In the event that the pain does not go away or even intensifies, the cause of its occurrence can be quite serious.

Violation of feeding technique as a cause of chest pain

Violation of feeding technique
Violation of feeding technique

Lactation disorders very often develop against the background of improper grip of the nipple by the baby. At that moment, a woman may experience acute pain, which often occurs at the very initial stage of feeding. In this case, the baby must be removed from the breast, because such a meal will not benefit him. The baby will not be able to get enough, in addition, he will capture large volumes of air in his mouth, which will lead to colic.

In order for the baby to take the breast correctly, you need to use the following recommendations:

  • Before starting to feed, you should run the nipple over the baby's lower lip. This will cause him to reflexively open his mouth wide.
  • The baby's head should be pulled towards you so that its mouth seems to cover the nipple. Only a small part of the areola should be visible to a woman. When the top of the mother's breast is located at the root of the baby's tongue, it will not be able to injure the nipple.
  • If you can't put the breast in the baby's mouth correctly, you can use the following simple technique: pull off the skin of the areola by squeezing it with your thumb from above and with your index finger from below, and gently insert it into the baby's open mouth. Inside, it will straighten itself, which guarantees a correct grip.

It is possible to ensure the correct grip of the chest in almost any position. However, the optimal one is the one in which the child is applied from the armpit, in the supine position. Once this technique is mastered, the woman will forget about painful feedings.

Sometimes the reason that the baby is not able to breastfeed correctly lies in physiological problems:

  • The child has a short frenum of the tongue. As a last resort, it can be trimmed at the dentist, it will take a few minutes and does not require a long recovery period.
  • The upper palate of a newborn is abnormal. In this case, you will need to consult a surgeon.

Nipple injury

Nipple injury
Nipple injury

The most common injury to the nipple is a crack.

They are formed for the following reasons:

  • The baby takes the breast incorrectly, sucks only part of the nipple, but does not capture the areola. Cracks will appear as a result of mechanical damage.
  • A woman washes her mammary gland too often, which leads to the removal of natural lubrication. As a result, the skin dries out, becomes thinner and bursts.

  • A young mother is pumping milk incorrectly. If pumping is necessary, the breast should be squeezed very gently, not just pressing on the nipple. Using a breast pump will avoid cracking, but should not be used too often. Otherwise, injuries cannot be avoided either.
  • The woman takes the breast out of the baby's mouth too abruptly. You need to interrupt feeding correctly: for this you need to carefully insert a clean little finger into the mouth of the crumbs and carefully remove the breast. This should only be done if there really is a need to stop the feeding process. In all other situations, the baby will release the breast on its own when it is full.

Candidiasis as a cause of chest pain

Candidiasis as a cause
Candidiasis as a cause

Microdamages on the nipples are the gateway to infection, both fungal and bacterial. With thrush, a white coating appears on the nipples. It will also cover the inner surface of the baby's cheeks, gums, palate and tongue. The baby will begin to refuse food.

For a woman, thrush delivers painful sensations during feeding, as well as in the process of expressing milk. As the infection spreads deep into the milk ducts, the chest will begin to ache, even at rest. There may be several reasons for the development of candidiasis, among them hormonal imbalance, a drop in immunity, and violations of hygiene rules.

To get rid of thrush, you need to see a doctor. He will prescribe medications that will effectively eliminate the infection and allow you to continue breastfeeding your baby. A specialist should also be involved in the treatment of candidiasis in an infant.

Learn More: Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Thrush

Stagnant milk

Stagnant milk
Stagnant milk

Milk stasis or lactostasis is one of the causes of breast pain during breastfeeding.

Such a violation can be due to a number of reasons:

  • The breast is emptied poorly or not completely. This may be due to the fact that the woman does not follow the technique of feeding the baby, feeds the baby with a formula, or she has cracks in her nipples.
  • While feeding, the woman holds her breast with her hand. Pressure on a certain area of the breast can lead to the fact that milk will be retained in it.
  • Incorrectly chosen posture during a night's rest. It is strictly forbidden to sleep on your stomach during lactation.
  • Wearing a bra that is too tight and squeezes your breasts.
  • Increased production of breast milk.
  • Overwork, nervous strain, stress, poor quality night rest.
  • Chest trauma, hypothermia.

When milk stagnates, the breast becomes stiff, areas of compaction are felt in it, the skin turns pale, and the vessels appear under it. If you touch your chest, you can feel an increase in local temperature, while the body temperature remains within normal limits. While feeding the baby, the woman experiences pain that does not subside after the breast has been emptied.

Lactostasis is not a contraindication to breastfeeding. Moreover, the more often and better the baby will suck milk, the faster it will be possible to cope with stagnation. If lactostasis cannot be stopped in 2-3 days, then you should consult a doctor to prevent mastitis.



Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland that develops against the background of lactostasis, or when infectious agents enter the breast tissue. Mastitis is indicated by severe pain in the mammary gland, its hyperemia, an increase in body temperature, the appearance of seals, chills, a deterioration in general well-being. The risk of developing mastitis is especially high during the first weeks after childbirth, when the mother's immune system is weakened by an ordeal.

If the inflammation is not treated in time, it will lead to suppuration in the tissues of the breast. In this case, breastfeeding will have to be abandoned. When the disease is diagnosed in an advanced stage, it can lead to severe deformation of the breast, blood poisoning and even death of a woman.

To eliminate inflammation at the initial stages of its development, it is necessary to apply cool lotions to the mammary gland between feedings. It is equally important to effectively empty the breast, avoiding milk stagnation, in which bacteria will quickly begin to multiply. If mastitis is severe, then antibiotics are required, and sometimes surgery.

Find out more: mastitis in a nursing mother - what to do?

Raynaud's syndrome

Raynaud's syndrome
Raynaud's syndrome

The abrupt contraction of blood vessels in the chest is called vasospasm or Raynaud's syndrome. In this case, the woman experiences burning pain immediately after stopping feeding. This is due to the fact that there is a sharp drop in temperature when the breast is taken out of the baby's mouth. A vasospasm is indicated by a discoloration of the nipple: it becomes pale. Blood stops flowing to the chest, which provokes painful sensations. From time to time, pain can be troubling in between feedings.

If the mother has Raynaud's syndrome, then she needs to consult a doctor. After all, this problem is a frequent companion of autoimmune diseases.

In order not to provoke the development of vasospasm, it is necessary to cover the breast immediately after completing the feeding process, preventing hypothermia. You should also give up drinking tea and coffee, and to relieve the condition, practice self-massage of the breast.

How to avoid pain while breastfeeding?

How to avoid pain
How to avoid pain

There are specific recommendations that will help prevent chest pain during breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding should be done frequently. This will allow for faster lactation and ensure an adequate supply of milk.
  • It is important to make sure your baby is breastfeeding correctly. this is the only way to empty all the lobules of the mammary glands without exception.
  • You need to express milk competently, observing certain rules:

    1. To expand the milk ducts, you can take a warm shower or put a warm diaper on your breast.
    2. Drink warm tea a few minutes before pumping.
    3. It's good if you have time to massage your breasts. Movement should be light and go from the chest to the nipple. You can use a soft diaper to minimize the risk of injury.
    4. While expressing, you need to mentally imagine the process of breastfeeding. This will promote the production of oxytocin.
  • Breasts should be kept clean, but should not be washed too often. To maintain breast hygiene, it is sufficient to shower once a day. You can leave a drop of breast milk on the nipple to keep it hydrated. It promotes the early healing of cracked nipples.
  • The chest should be ventilated; it should not be kept in a bra all the time.
  • You should wear a bra that supports your breasts without pinching them. It is good if there is an opportunity to purchase special cotton underwear for nursing women.
  • If cracks appear on the nipples, then they should be lubricated with a healing gel between the application of the baby to the breast. Microtrauma gels Bepanten, Actovegin, Solcoseryl heal well. You need to apply the product deep into the cracks. Gels should be used, not ointments, since the latter are too oily base.
  • If there is a tendency to lactostasis, then you can keep the breast warm before feeding by applying a compress on it.
  • To make the milk go away easier, you must first bend over and shake your chest slightly.
  • It is recommended to sleep only on your back or on your side.
  • Protect the mammary glands from the effects of cold, shock and injury.

It is impossible to tolerate chest pain during feeding, it is imperative to find out the reasons for its occurrence. If you cannot do it yourself, then you need to contact a doctor. It is impossible to hesitate to visit a specialist when the pain persists for several days, increases or is accompanied by an increase in body temperature.

WHO recommends breastfeeding up to 1–2 years of age. This guarantees the formation of strong immunity in the baby, and also allows the mother to establish close psychological contact with the baby.


The author of the article: Lapikova Valentina Vladimirovna | Gynecologist, reproductologist

Education: Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology received at the Russian State Medical University of the Federal Agency for Healthcare and Social Development (2010). In 2013 completed postgraduate studies at N. N. N. I. Pirogova.

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