Breasts Hurt and Burn After Breastfeeding

High angle view of a mother breastfeeding her baby boy
Many conditions trigger burning and pain after breastfeeding. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Any woman can experience burning or pain in her breasts and nipples following breastfeeding -- especially if she is inexperienced or just start out breastfeeding. Many conditions, infections and complications can trigger symptoms. However, with a bit of extra care, you can treat and avoid burning and painful breasts after feeding your child.

Origins

Pain and burning after breastfeeding often stem from improper positioning while you are feeding your baby. Sometimes your baby eagerly latches on to just your nipple rather than the areola and nipple. In addition, pain and burning occurs if your baby sucks too hard while nursing or bites you at the end of the feeding. Engorgement, where the breasts become full and hard with milk, also triggers pain and burning. This discomfort also can be caused by infections, such as mastitis or a blocked milk duct.

Treatments

Take a pain reliever, such as paracetamol, to ease pain and burning; talk with your doctor about what is safe to use while nursing. Wrap a cold pack in a towel and hold it against your breasts. Massage the painful spots on your breasts in a circular motion. Assure that your baby latches on properly at every feeding, taking your full nipple into her mouth. Manually express or pump a bit of milk before and after the next feeding to relieve any engorgement and make the areola softer, which will help your baby latch on better at the next feeding.

Concerns

An inverted nipple, where the nipple sinks inward instead of protruding outward, often triggers breast and nipple pain and burning after a feeding. Similarly, a flat nipple, which doesn’t become erect during nursing, contributes to pain. If you suspect a clog or blockage, point your baby’s nose toward the clog to help draw it out. If that doesn’t help, pump your breasts for a couple of minutes to release the blockage.

When to Call a Doctor

Seek medical attention or contact a lactation consultant if you are unable to nurse your baby due to pain or burning in your breasts. Also call your doctor if breast pain is accompanied by a lump in your breast, fever, body aches, chills, the appearance of red streaks across your breasts or if your nipples become sensitive to cold temperatures. These could be signs of a serious infection or a condition such as vasospasm, where the blood vessels spasm in the breasts.

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