Sore or Swollen Nipples while Breastfeeding

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi parents. I’ve got one swollen nipple and can’t figure out how to fix it. My baby can still drink from it, milk is flowing, it’s a little tender but not painful. I’ve tried ice, ibuprofen, and APNO, but nothing is helping. Since there are no other symptoms my lactation consultant and midwife can’t figure out what’s wrong. Has this happened to you? Does anyone have any insight? It’s not sore, cracked or engorged, just a swollen puffy nipple.

    Hi, I have so much empathy for you!  I had lots of trouble with one nipple when my newborn was nursing, and I suffered through the pain for 10 weeks before the nipple finally healed.  Mine was not just swollen but split open.  Nothing seemed to work until I started soaking it in warm salt water for about 7-8 minutes every time right after I nursed.  If you decide to do this, make sure the water is not too hot. All of the details for how exactly to do the salt water rinse are here:  It took about 3 days before it started to heal and then it completely resolved soon after, and I was able to nurse my son for a whole year afterwards without any pain.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sore nipples when nursing 2 yr old

Feb 2003

My child is 2 years old and nurses to sleep for his daily nap and to sleep at night and a few times during the night. The problem is that my nipples have been so sore lately. It's not the front teeth, he's had those for sometime and I am quite used to it. I was wondering if anyone knows why all of the sudden I would hurt. I nurse him to sleep while he lays down next to me. Is it possible that the mild is drying up and so it's a suction thing? I still hear him swallow and see milk on his mouth sometimes. I'v put some Lansinoh on, but I want the hurting to go away. Any advice would help. sore mom

I had that same problem. I had comfortably nursed my child for a long time and then all of a sudden by nipples started hurting alot. It turns out I was pregnant. Could you be pregnant again? A Happily Surprised Mama

When my daughter was 2 and my nipples suddenly became sore, I was sure it was her nursing that caused that. Then I found out I was pregnant. If that isn't your situation, perhaps you have a fungus that's irritating your nipple.

The most likely explanations are (1) you're pregnant, or (2) you're about to have a visit from Aunt Flo. I hope at least one of those options might be good news for you! It's also possible that you and your son have just gotten sloppy about his latch position. Try going back to the positions you used when he was a newborn and see if that helps. Holly (also nursing a 2yo)

My sons also nursed to sleep until ages 3 and 4. I remember a phase when I found the sensation extremely annoying (not sure if this is your interpretation). What I would do was to count to 60 then unlatch him, then count again then get out of bed gently (to not wake him). Sometimes I would have to count several times, or I might end up falling asleep. I think you're right, it has to do with hormonal changes as you go to a lower level of milk production. Towards the end of their nursing careers, I found I could no longer express milk, but when asked if milk came out, they said yes. I'm glad I stuck with it until they decided to wean naturally. I hope your soreness is just a phase and you can continue this special time in both your lives until you are both ready to move on. Also, you will find great support by contacting your local LaLeche League leader and attending meetings. I wish you the best

Could you be pregnant? Although I did not feel soreness in the nipples till a couple months into my first pregnancy, with pregnancy #2 I felt soreness while nursing for a week or so before I even missed my period. anon.

I had to stop nursing my 2 year old as soon as I became pregnant with #2. I had never had sore nipples before and suddenly it became unbearable to continue to nurse. Could this by any chance be what has happened to you?? -another mom