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Hi Mamas! Dealing with sore or painful nipples while pumping can be challenging. Pumping is not supposed to be painful, yet some women experience pain. It can become discouraging at times when you are hurting, but keep it up momma! YOU’VE GOT THIS! Let me help you find the root of the problem so that pumping can become easier for you. Below are 5 reasons you may be in pain.
1. Breast Shield Size (or Flanges)
Picking the correct flange size can be tricky! Most pumps automatically come with the size 24mm, but there are also sizes 21mm, 27mm, 30mm, and 36mm. It can get a little costly, but I highly recommend trying different sizes. I tried three different shields before I chose the right one. Luckily, there are size charts available for you to view, like Medela’s. Make sure to position your nipples in the center of the tunnel. Your nipples should be moving freely within the tunnel without too much of the areola sucked in. You are not alone if the size charts confuse you (I know I was clueless!) Consult a lactation nurse near you for more help. They can be a life saver!
I learned this cause the hard way. After all the research I did on breastfeeding, this is the one I missed. Friction burn could be causing you pain while pumping. Try applying a lubricant around your areola and/or the tunnel of your flanges to help your nipples glide easily. It will change your life! I personally use organic coconut oil (it lasts forever!) or creams such as BamBoobies, Medela, or Lansinoh, but you can use extra virgin olive oil as well. All are safe for baby!
3. Pump Settings
Many women believe they need to have the speed of their pump turned to the max to remove the most amount of milk; I know I did. This is not true. In fact, it can cause more harm than good such as causing your nipples to be very tender. Turn the speed down instead to a setting that is more comfortable. You want to try to mimic your baby’s suckle.
Thrush is no joke. If you are breastfeeding your baby, then your nipples make the perfect place for thrush to thrive. It grows in warm, moist areas and loves to feed upon your sugary milk. The most common symptoms of thrush are sharp pains, burning, itching, or nipples that are red and scaly with possible small blisters. Check your baby’s mouth for small, white patches as well. If you notice any of these symptoms start treating immediately. Some women are able to treat themselves with OTC antifungals (this stuff is amazing!), but others will need something stronger. Thrush is very stubborn and difficult to get rid of.
5. Cracked or Dry Nipples
Having cracked or dry nipples could be causing you pain. Cleaning your nipples is very important if they are cracked. To do so, mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water (mix fresh for each use) to make a saline solution. After pumping, soak your nipples for about one minute in the solution. Allow them to air dry or pat dry with a clean towel. Apply expressed breast milk, coconut oil, or cream to your nipples for moisture. Repeat these steps after each pumping session.
I hope these tips have helped you with any issues you may have! Please feel free to comment below with any additional tips or questions! As always, YOU’VE GOT THIS MAMA!