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HealthInfo Canterbury

Sore, tender & damaged nipples

Nipple pain is one of the most common reasons why mothers give up breastfeeding. It's very common to get sore nipples in the first week of breastfeeding, but if your baby is latching well, this tenderness should go away around 10 days after birth.

Facts about nipple pain

What can cause ongoing nipple pain?

Nipple pain can be caused by problems with your baby's latch and position. Latching can be difficult if your breasts are engorged (too full). As well, infections, blocked nipple pores, or sometimes a problem with your baby's tongue (tongue tie) can also cause nipple pain.


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

Your midwife will watch you breastfeeding and check your baby's tongue and mouth. They may refer you to see a lactation consultant for a further assessment.

How is ongoing nipple pain treated?

The first thing your midwife or lactation consultant will do is check your baby's latch at the breast and correct any latching difficulties. Other treatment will depend on what's causing the pain and may include pain relief (painkillers), or a course of antibiotics if you have an infection.

If you're 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.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy co-ordinator. Updated February 2018.


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Review key: HIBRF-24381