Is it normal to experience sharp and shooting pain while breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, pain is part of the package. Especially if it's your first time doing so and you just started nursing. In fact more than 90% of new mummies experience some degree of pain while breastfeeding.
When the pain feels sharp or shooting, like a needle or electric shocks on the nipples or breasts, there are typically two fundamental issues at hand:
- Some milk hardened and obstructs your ducts, pores or other part of the breast. The resulting pressure is what creates the pain.
- Often due to blockages, an inflammation or infection happens. In that case, the pain is caused by the infection itself.
Causes and home remedies for sharp and shooting pain while breastfeeding
Here is a list of the most common types of blockages and inflammations/infections that may cause sharp or shooting pain:
- Engorgement: When an excess of milk is blocked in your breast's lobules
- Clogged milk ducts: This is when milk ducts, the "pipes" inside your breasts, get blocked
- Milk blebs or blisters: Those are pimples that can appear on the nipple or areolas, often due to hardened milk blocking your nipple pores
- Vasospasms, Raynaud's and nipple blanching: When blood flow gets blocked in blood vessels it results in pain and a phenomenon called "blanching"
- Nipple fissure: Also called "cracked nipple", it's when you have an open wound in your nipple or areola
- Nipple thrush: It is a kind of bacterial infection that develops from untreated nipple fissure
- Mastitis: It is a severe infection of the breast that can develop from untreated clogged ducts, engorgement or other issues
- Breast abscess: This typically occurs when mastitis is not treated properly, the hard lump under the breast become pus due to inflammation
Among the issues above, engorgement, clogged milk ducts and milk blebs/blisters are comparatively mild.
To solve them we recommend home remedies such as Unblock Nursing Tea. It's an herbal tea made of 12 natural herbs that's designed to remove blockages like those behind those issues.
It contains a lot of "cooling herbs" famous for their anti-inflammatory properties such a Honeysuckle flowers or Dandelions as well as plants that ease circulation of fluids in the breasts.
For other home remedies, please refer to this article on treating engorgement and clogged ducts and this one for milk blebs and blisters.
Nipple fissures are slightly trickier since we're speaking about an open wound. It is not easy to heal as expressing milk tends to constantly reopen the wound.
The best thing to do is to use a nipple shield and apply nipple cream, which can act as a shield against bacteria. It's also recommended to drink Unblock Nursing Tea for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Nipple thrush, mastitis and breast abscess are much more severe conditions. For those, antibiotics are often the way to go since we're speaking about full-blown infections. If you develop any of those conditions, do not delay in talking with your doctor or lactation consultant.
You may also consider painkillers if the pain is too unbearable. Ibuprofen or Tylenol are considered better for breastfeeding mums as they are comparatively safer for both mothers and babies.
Lastly Vasospasms and Raynaud's is a special case as it can be caused by a multitude of reasons. See our article on vasospasms for more details.
Article tags: Breastfeeding and maternity