Mother free of breast pumping pain.

Wait? Breast pumping is painful? How can that be? Using your breast pump is supposed to be comfortable and easy, and in some cases, even fun. If it’s hurting then you could be left with trust issues and the need for painkillers.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Use this guide to stop breast pumping pain. From sore nipples, tender breasts, swollen ta-tas, chest pain, cracked nips, and more, we have the solution to get you back on track for pain-free pumping.

Your Guide To Stop Breast Pumping Pain

Pumping Settings

When in doubt check your breast pump settings. Breast pumps are powerful with high suction settings and not all boobs are created equal. Some are made of steel and can handle the highest pump settings, others are sensitive and need to operate at a lower suction and power level.

Higher settings may be associated with a faster milk expression rate, but you should go at your own pace. You also need strong enough suction to pull out milk, so find the right balance. Start off at lower speeds and if you want, gradually turn the settings up over time. If you experience any pain lower the settings again.

Wrong Equipment Size

You need to use the correctly sized breast shield and flanges for your breasts and nipples to correctly and comfortably express milk. Otherwise, you could experience pain and irritation immediately due to friction.

To discover your correct flange size use a ruler or measuring tape to measure your nipple diameter. If you don’t math, don’t worry, this is simple. Just measure the width across the center of your nipple and 1 cm = 10 mm. By knowing this information you can choose the flange that perfectly fits.

Remember you have the wrong flange size if:

  • Your nipple becomes discolored or turns white.
  • Your nipple rubs against the sides.
  • The area around your nipple turns red.
  • A large amount of your areola (outer nipple) is pulled into the flange opening. (This means the flange size is too big!)

Pro Breast Pumping Tips

Place nipple cream on your nipples and water on the breast shield for added comfort. Try on each flange to determine which is the most comfortable.


What if you aren’t pumping enough? Then your breasts could become engorged! Breast engorgement is when your breasts become too full of milk, causing them to be stiff and tender. This will make pumping painful, but you need to express milk to get relief. Hand massaging your breasts to express some milk before pumping can help.

Other tips to relieve engorgement include:

  • Resting for a day or two.
  • Staying hydrated to ease milk flow.
  • Taking painkillers.
  • Using an ice pack on your breasts.
  • Take a warm shower before breastfeeding to stimulate milk flow.


If you don’t quickly relieve engorgement or become engorged often, then you could be at risk for mastitis, a breast infection due to clogged milk ducts. Mastitis symptoms include swollen, tender breasts, red nipples, painful nipples, and flu-like symptoms. If you feel as if you may be at risk contact your doctor immediately for antibiotics.

Be Aware of Infections

Speaking of infections, mastitis isn’t the only one you have to watch out for. There are actually a few different types that can develop.


You could develop a thrush or yeast infection. Symptoms include itching and burning nipples. If you think you have a yeast infection contact your doctor to get antifungal medication for yourself and your baby.

Clogged duct

Clogged ducts have similar symptoms to mastitis, only you may also be able to feel the lump, where milk is clogged. The area may also be warm and red.

To relieve a clogged milk duct take a hot shower and allow the warm water to run over your breast, then gently massage it. You can also apply a warm compress to your breast and use your thumb behind the nipple or plug to work the milk towards the nipple. Some Moms use vibration from an item like an electric toothbrush to relive the blockage.

Other signs of infections include:

  • Itching, painful nipples that are pink, red, shiny, or flaky
  • Tiny blisters around the nipple
  • Intense nipple pain of breast pain that’s difficult to relieve with latching on and different positioning
  • Shooting pains in the breast
  • Deep breast pain

Damaged Nipples

It can be pretty easy to damage your nipples at first because new moms are anxious to get started with their pump to bring in their full milk supply. By over pumping or using too much suction you can damage your nips! Also, never work through the pain. Stop pumping as soon as something feels off to prevent further damage.

If you have damaged nipples, cracked nipples. Eczema or chapping then you have to let your nipples heal before continuing to breastfeed or pump.

Heal nipple damage by:

  • Using a good nipple cream to soften and soothe the area.
  • Use a few drops of breastmilk on the area for it’s nutritional and preventive properties.
  • Give your ladies time to breathe. Go topless for exposure to fresh air.
  • Soak your nipples in warm salt water.
  • Apply ice to the area.
  • Take pain relievers to reduce swelling and pain.

Put An End To Breast Pain

Things don’t go according to plan and as a new mom, this is your first rodeo. If you’re experiencing any type of breast pumping pain, don’t panic. Remain calm and figure out how to relieve the situation with home remedies or with the help of your doctor to get back on track towards producing milk for your baby.

All content published on the Motif Medical site is created for informational purposes only. This information should not substitute as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or qualified health professional with any questions regarding the health of you or your baby.