Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Sore, tender, & damaged nipples information

If you are worried about your breasts or breastfeeding, or if you need any help, contact your midwife or general practice team, a breastfeeding support service, lactation consultant, breastfeeding peer counsellor, or a breastfeeding support group. For free 24-hour breastfeeding support and information, phone (03) 338-8447.

Nipple pain is one of the most common reasons that mothers give up breastfeeding. It's normal, and very common to get sore nipples in the first week of breastfeeding.

Facts about nipple pain


If you have ongoing nipple pain/tenderness for longer than 30 seconds into each feed, or if you continue to have sore nipples or breast pain after 14 days, see your midwife, general practice team, lactation consultant, or breastfeeding support person.

What can cause ongoing nipple pain?

Ongoing nipple pain can be caused by poor technique (for example, positioning and latch of the baby), engorged (too full) breasts, infections, blocked nipple pores, or sometimes, a problem with your baby's tongue (tongue tie).

Therefore, if you have nipple pain that lasts longer than 30 seconds in each feed, or that continues 14 days after giving birth, it's important that you seek help. Talk with your midwife at the next visit.

Your midwife will check how you feed, watch your baby feeding, and check your baby's tongue and mouth. You and your baby may need to be seen by a lactation consultant for a further assessment.

How is ongoing nipple pain treated?

Checking the baby's latch at the breast and correcting any latching difficulties is the first priority. Other treatment will depend on the diagnosis and may include pain relief (painkillers), or a course of antibiotics, for example, if you have an infection.

On the next page: Taking medication while breastfeeding

Page reference: 45602

Review key: HIBRF-24381