Persistent Pain When Breastfeeding

If you’re a new breastfeeding mom, you may have some initial discomfort. You may need to adjust your baby’s latch, or perhaps the baby’s overall position isn’t quite working out. But, in general, breastfeeding should never be painful. So, what about moms who experience persistent pain while breastfeeding? How do we explain that, and how do we figure out the problem?

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Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
Persistent Pain when Breastfeeding

Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: If you are a new breastfeeding mom, you may have some initial discomfort. You may need to adjust your baby’s latch. Or perhaps the baby’s overall position isn’t quite working out. But in general breastfeeding should never be painful. So what mom who experience persistent pain while breastfeeding? How do we explain that? And do we figure out the problem? We are The Boob Group.

[Intro/Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to The Boob Group! We are here to support all moms who want to give their babies breastmilk and to respect moms who have chosen to feed their babies another way. I am Sunny Gault. Thanks so much to all the mammas who listen to our show on a regular basis! Keep in mind you can always subscribe to our show through iTunes, so our episodes will automatically download to your device. And you can get all of our episodes immediately through The Boob Group app and the New Mommy Media network app. Both are absolutely free and available wherever you download apps. Do you have an episode idea for us? We’ve released more than 160 episodes, but we are always looking for more topics. You can visit our website at and e-mail us any ideas, and we’ll definitely check those out. So let’s go ahead and meet the mamas that are joining us on our conversation today. Ladies, tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your experience with today’s topic. So Helen is our expert and Helen and I are going to meet you a little later on as the expert and talk about your experience there, but you are a mom as well, so tell us a little bit about that?

HELEN ANDERSON: So my name is Helen Anderson. I am a registered nurse and a certified lactation educator. I am the mother of three breastfed children. And I founded a company called Milkies. We develop products for moms that are breastfeeding. And I am also a blogger. I blog about breastfeeding issues at

SUNNY GAULT: Awesome! And Amanda Hall is joining us. Amanda, welcome to the show! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

AMANDA HALL: Hi, Sunny! Thanks so much for having me! My name is Amanda Hall, like Sunny said. I am a mother of two. My little girl most recently is four and a half months. And then I have two, almost three-year-old son. So very little glance. I am co-owner of RUMINA Nursingwear, my sister, mother and I all own it. So we are a breastfeeding apparel company that focuses on providing moms with nursing and pumping apparel. And that’s about it!

HELEN ANDERSON: I just want to say, I think RUMINA Nursingwear is the best nursingwear that’s out there. It is so duo-functional, you can pump, you can nurse with it. I know about nursing tops, I breastfed a lot. Plus I am familiar with products that are out there. And I think RUMINA is definitely the top brand for moms that want stylish and functional nursingwear.

SUNNY GAULT: I actually use the product all the time too. The tanks are my favorite. And I am really picky about that kind of stuff too. But I love them. Actually, I work out in my tanks all the time. For me it is like a perfect fit for not being too tide, not being too loose. You know, my twins want to breastfeed right after I am done working out. So it is still functional, you know: work out in it, and then my babies are nursed, and then I am back to my day. So I love it as well!

AMANDA HALL: Oh, well that’s wonderful to hear, ladies! Thank you!

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! And RUMINA is sponsoring today’s episode. So, Amanda, it is great to have you joining us! And you guys know me, but I’ll kind of introduce myself anyways. So I am Sunny. I am leading today’s conversation. And I have four kids. My oldest is five, he’ll be turning six this summer. Then I have a four-year-old son and twin girls who are about two and a half. And I have a little bit of experience with this persistent pain, I breastfed all of my kids. I am still usually tandem breastfeeding my twins. So the pain is not as frequent as it used to be. But I can certainly share my experience on this as well. So ladies, thanks for joining us! We’ll take a quick break and we’ll be right back!

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so before we kick things off with our episode today, we are going to do a segment that I really like. It is called “What’s you breastfeeding IQ?” And so we learn a lot on this show and we like to remind our moms about how important breastfeeding is and how important is just to provide breastmilk for your baby. And so we like to do these little quizzes and ask you guys questions. So play along with us. Actually I do not have the all multiple choices, but I do not have the answers, so I am going to play along as well. So Amanda and I will kind of be guessing the answers and then will turn to Helen for the answer. And so here’s our first question, Amanda:
A normal poop for a breastfed baby is:
a) yellow and seedy
b) solid and brown
c) like a clump of red clay
d) soft and dark green

Amanda, what do you think?

AMANDA HALL: It is a).

SUNNY GAULT: It is a)-yellow and seedy! And yes, it was a), at least in my experience, all my kids had yellow and seedy. So Helen, what’s the official answer?

HELEN ANDERSON: You got it Amanda, nice work!

SUNNY GAULT: Yay, yellow and seedy! And it is so funny! We did a whole episode on our sister show Newbies about poop. So if you guys are listening and you want…because moms love to talk about poop for some reason, so if you want a complete breakdown of poop and how poop changes for your baby, head in over to our sister show Newbies. Ok, the second question:
Why do breastfed babies become better eaters than toddlers?
a) breastfed babies eat less and are therefore hungrier
b) breastfed babies are just more chill and open to new experiences
c) the food you eat flavors your milk exposing babies to new taste

AMANDA HALL: I am going to go with c).

SUNNY GAULT: C)… I hope it is c). Helen, what do you think?

HELEN ANDERSON: Yeah, that’s it, c) is right!


SUNNY GAULT: That is awesome! That is so cool that we are kind of training our kids through our breastmilk. I mean, it can go either way, right? We hope we develop their palette that way. But then, you know, you kind of got to watch what we eat, if we eat too much broccoli, asparagus, or whatever, it is impacting the breastmilk and they may not like it.

HELEN ANDERSON: Right, if you think about how all the different diets that people have throughout the World. I mean, our kids will probably turn their nose at a lot of the food and spices that are really commonplace in our countries. But since infants are exposed to those flavors through breastmilk from the first day of life, to them it is just normal. So it is just pretty neat. It is pretty cool.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, I was thinking about Indian food being really spicy and stuff.

HELEN ANDERSON: Exactly what I was thinking too. The curry and everything…

SUNNY GAULT: Yes! Yeah, and the babies just become more adjusted to it, because that’s what their moms are eating and it is coming through. It is like a…it is like a taster!


SUNNY GAULT: It comes through the breastmilk. That’s awesome! Ok, our last question:
What percentage of mammas seeks breastfeeding help?
So I thought this tied in with our topic really well. Is it:
a) 73% which cracks me up because that’s such an exact number
b) around 50% , so about half
c) less than 10%

AMANDA HALL: Oh, Gosh! This is a hard one! Umm… I am trying to think about the breastfeeding weights overall and I am going to go with c).
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah… You know, I want to just… I want to say b). I know it is not a). I want to say b), but I think it is c). I think it is c). Helen, what do you think?
HELEN ANDERSON: I think it is c) as well. I didn’t find any hard and fast numbers on this. But just from what we know about the problems that moms have, the reason they give for breastfeeding sensation, these are things that could be probably addressed through some expert help. And we know that moms unfortunately aren’t getting that expert help for the most part. So I think c) is probably a good guess.

AMANDA HALL: Plus overall the breastfeeding rates here in US are pretty, pretty low. And so if you think about how well we are beginning with and then the percentage of those moms, I can imagine it is a pretty low number unfortunately.

SUNNY GAULT: Well, that’s a good point, cause the question just says: “what percentage of mammas seek…”, not breastfeeding moms seek help. Yeah, that’s true, it is probably c). Alright! Well, thanks for playing along, ladies! We are going to take a quick break and we are going to be right back!

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! So today we are talking about persistent pain while breastfeeding. And we are excited to have Helen Anderson joining us today! She is our expert. Helen is RN and certified lactation education. And she is also the mastermind behind Milkies, which she talked about a little bit earlier. So Helen, welcome to The Boob Group!

HELEN ANDERSON: Thank you! Thanks for having me, Sunny!

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! So I think there are at least some misconceptions out there that it is normal to experience pain in breastfeeding. But I feel like that’s a little bit inaccurate of a statement. Helen, would you agree?

HELEN ANDERSON: Sure! So just to clarify: a lot of women do experience pain, especially in the first 14 days of their baby’s life. About 80% of moms do report having nipple pain.


HELEN ANDERSON: And we define persistent pain, which is our topic today, as pain that lasts longer than 14 days.

SUNNY GAULT: So if a mom is experiencing breast or nipple pain regularly, what do you do? I mean, do you… I would imagine… I probably wouldn’t react to it right away. Should we get help right away or should we kind of wait it out? Or what’s your take on that?

HELEN ANDERSON: Yes, get help right away. It could be a pretty simple fix. Most nipple pain is due to incorrect positioning of the baby, so maybe the jaw positioning is causing some discomfort, the latch is shallow, or there’s some other problem in the way the baby is latching on to the breast. That’s the most common cause of pain. And that could be a pretty quick fix if you go and see an expert and they could do just some quick tweaks with the way your baby is latched on, and that could really solve your problem right there. And it is really important to get pain under control as soon as possible, because we do see a higher rate of postpartum depression in moms that report prolonged breastfeeding pain.

SUNNY GAULT: Now, some of the things that you mentioned, I feel like these are issues that a lot of moms may experience earlier in their breastfeeding relationship. Is that what you find? That a lot of this persistent pain is, you know, starting right of the gate or can moms experience this later on as well?

HELEN ANDERSON: There can be a whole range of reasons why moms have pain. And they can be things that resolve pretty early. For instance, if you have…If your baby just has a small mouth when he or she is a newborn, they can have a shallow latch, but then they grow up and they kind of grow out of that problem. But then we can have things that are more persistent like eczemas, skin allergies, infections and these are all things that are going to persist until they are addressed. The baby is not going to grow out of it, and the baby is not going to grow out of it either, but it going to persist.

SUNNY GAULT: I know we are going to dive in a little bit more about those specific things that, you know, can impact this persistent pain after the break. So ok, Amanda, how did you know something was wrong? And just tell us a little bit more about your experience?

AMANDA HALL: Well, to talk a little bit about the 14 days that Helen talked about. I knew something was wrong when… Every day I was counting: ok, today is day 7, one more and I can make it through, I am going to just focus on day 10, I am going to focus on day 14. And once I started getting into that week and a half/two week range I really started thinking: ok, this, this isn’t normal, or I don’t know what the definition of normal would be, I don’t know if there is one when it comes to breastfeeding. I pumped exclusively with my son, so this was my first experience. Really hanging on and trying to make nursing work. And so I knew something was wrong when the pain changed. It wasn’t anymore about the cracked nipples that I suffered from, but the pain feeling changed. And I knew that either I was getting into some different area, like an infection, or thrush, or something, or I was suffering from something else that I hadn’t heard about before. So it hit that one-and-half week/two-week mark and I was still counting those days really fighting to keep the nursing and breastfeeding relationship going, that’s when it kind of clued in for me.

SUNNY GAULT: And when did you seek help, Amanda? Was it… I know you said you were counting the days, so how… On day what? When did you, you know? Was it a couple of weeks? Or when did say enough is enough, I need to seek some help with this?

AMANDA HALL: I first started experiencing really, really bad cracked nipples. And I knew just from being involved with RUMINA and the breastfeeding world, that latch was so important. And I actually gave birth to my little girl about forty minutes away. And so I live in a very small town, and we don’t have a lactation consultant here. So I had to make appointment and travel right with her being a newborn, and that’s stressful enough. So I held off a little bit until about day 3, I think, is when I first saw a lactation consultant. She helped me with my latch, she saw how bad the cracked nipples were, and she actually prescribed me some ointment for them. And then I went back to see her about day 10. And I don’t know if it was in middle of that change, that pain change, or what, but I was feeling good, I was feeling… We were getting the latch down. I was feeling my nipples were starting to heal. I was feeling really positive, so I didn’t… And I was feeling really good that she was actually getting enough to eat, that I didn’t focus on the pain changing. I just thought that it would go away. I thought that it was maybe still associated with the cracked nipples and that this was, you know, one of those badges of motherhood, that the pain will go away in a couple days. So after that 10 day mark when I saw her the last time, I actually never went back, because of…just it was hard to get up there and see her, and it wasn’t as easy of a trip. And I just… I guess I never sort out help after that point.

SUNNY GAULT: Helen, what is the protocol for examining moms when they come in? And babies as well? To diagnose what’s happening here?

HELEN ANDERSON: Well, if you are going in and you want to find out from an expert why you are having your pain, be prepared to breastfeed your baby. And also, if you are pumping, bring your pump with you, because that will be part of the diagnosis process as well. You are practitioner is going to examine the skin of your breast and your nipple. They are probably going to look in your baby’s mouth to determine if maybe your baby doesn't have a short frenulum or tongue-tie, that can interfere with the seal that your baby needs to make in order to breastfeed, that can really cause a lot of dysfunction in their suck and swallow. They are also going to ask you about your medical history. If you had this problem before, if you had any pain during your pregnancy if you had a pretty normal and textbook labor and delivery. If your baby had any birth trauma, for instance if they used forceps or vacuum extractor. Having an assisted birth like that can interfere with the way jaw moves. And so these are a couple of reasons, a couple of additional reasons why latch might be a little dysfunctional and why your baby might be causing you additional pain, or having trouble removing milk from the breast. Also they are going to ask you about your supply. If you have an oversupply that can cause a lot of discomfort because essentially you are always in gorged. So that can really look like persistent pain when what we have is an oversupply of milk. So there are a lot of things that your practitioner is going to look at. And they are going to ask you a lot about your medical history as well.

SUNNY GAULT: And then what’s the danger in not going and seeking help? You know, waiting out 14+ days, just hoping that it fixes itself? Because I know a lot of moms that are really busy. And let’s face it: as moms, we usually take care of ourselves last and we are focused on taking take of our kids, and our husbands, and partners, and all that kind of stuff. And it may just be, you know, you can’t get in to see the doctor, you can’t… You know, you’ve just got other priorities. So what’s the danger in just kind of pushing it off and saying: oh, I’ll deal with it later, or just hoping it fixes itself?

HELEN ANDERSON: Right, well, there’s a few risks to doing that: first of all-early stopping of breastfeeding. We know that about a third of moms sign persistent pain as a reason why they stop breastfeeding. So that can be a danger. And I can see why. The stress that would come from the pain of breastfeeding causes a definite biological response in your body. That causes a lot of stress and definitely puts you at risk for postpartum depression. So that’s a big risk. Other than that, if you have an infection that's causing your persistent pain, you want to get that taking care of right away, because infections can spread. And so it’s important that’s diagnosed and that’s addressed as well. And then if your baby has… There’s some other reason why you are having trouble like persistent pain, there’re maybe a diagnosis of tongue-tie, or some other thing that can be remedied pretty easily. And kind of the suffering would have been gone longer that it needed too.

AMANDA HALL: I am speaking from experience on this, because I definitely did this. We do a lot of self-diagnosing. And I think that there’s a big risk involved with that. When I was trying to troubleshoot what was going on, I was on mind constantly with what symptoms were. And unfortunately, I went through this whole list…well, oh, my Gosh, it could be this, and oh, my Gosh, it could be this, and oh, my Gosh, it could be this. And the pain changed a little bit and how you describe the pain, mind tries to search for the cause of it. It is… You come up with so many things. And you stress yourself out even more. And then you don’t know really where you are when it comes to your…what you’re suffering from, and how to… And you are an expert. You don’t know how to fix it or change it. And I think I really wish I would have saw an expert at that 3 week/4 week mark. And instead of self-diagnosing, like I did. So I think there a big, big risk involving so much information out there on the internet. And you really need to go and see somebody and get help.

SUNNY GAULT: We call that consulting with doctor Google. So if he is the only one treating you, you may want to think outside the box there. The computer box, right? Alright! Well, when we come back, we are going to break some of the main culprits that may be causing persistent pain when breastfeeding. We’ll be right back!

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, welcome back! We are continuing our chat about persistent pain while breastfeeding and Helen Anderson is our expert. Helen, let’s discuss more specifically, I know we mentioned some of this stuff in the first half, but let’s discuss the specifics of what could be causing this persistent pain in moms. So we talk about nipple damage. What’s going on there with the nipple damage?

HELEN ANDERSON: So nipple damage can be short term or it can be long-term. Typically we see nipple damage in the first fourteen days of life. And if it goes on beyond that, it could be poor positioning of the baby or essentially a shallow latch where the baby is really creating a lot of suction, which causes a lot of damage to those delicate tissues. With a good, deep latch baby is using his mouth, his or her mouth to compress the milk ducks and then just a small amount of suction is needed to actually get the milk into the mouth and down the throat. But if we have a shallow latch, we have a lot of nipple in the mouth, not a lot of other breast tissue, which creates a lot of trauma for that fragile tissue. We can also have what we call tongue-tie, which is where the tongue doesn’t protrude past the teeth essentially. And that creates a really poor seal between the baby’s mouth and the breast which, again, we have a lot of trauma that can occur due to that. But the most common cause of nipple damage is shallow latch and poor positioning of the breast. And these are issues that can really be remedied with a visit to a lactation consultant.

SUNNY GAULT: And Amanda, I know this was a cause of concern for you, so how was it? You know when you went to see your lactation consultant, what was the coup, or more specifically within the latch or nipple damage? What was the main concern in your situation?

AMANDA HALL: She had a really shallow latch and she was a really lazy, lazy eater. She just wanted to kind of plot the nipple in and expect everything to happen. And really you can’t… That’s not really the case. So I really had to work with the lactation consultant on the latch and how to get her positioned on me, or next to me that would help with getting a wider latch, and the correct one. So it really was… She didn’t have any tongue-tie, or lip tie or anything. And so it was really just a… She was a lazy latcher and a lazy eater, and she still kind of suffers from that, I still have to try to correct her latch. Now even at 4 and a half, almost five months because she is just a little bit lazy with that.

SUNNY GAULT: Is that common, Helen? To have to continually, you know kind of fix baby’s latch or should they catch on, or, you know, is that normal?

HELEN ANDERSON: Well, it depends. All babies are different. And babies really respond to milk flow as well. So if you have a slow letdown or an overactive letdown that can change the way your baby is going to latch as well. So it is really individual between baby and mom.

SUNNY GAULT: Ok! So the next item on our list is dermatosis. What is dermatosis, Helen?

HELEN ANDERSON: Dermatosis is really like reddening and thickening of the skin. And it kind of encompasses as a whole range of conditions from eczema to allergic dermatosis. And allergic dermatosis is really a fancy word for any kind of allergy that occurs because of something you put on your skin. So maybe you changed laundry soap and these are things that can cause an allergic reaction in the skin. So any you have kind of scaly…what we call scaly plaques, now is a sign of eczema. Eczema is really when you are having an overreaction…your skin is having an overreaction to something that maybe isn’t really an allergen. Like what you see is scaly, kind of scaly skin, that’s what eczema is going to look like.

SUNNY GAULT: Ok! And the next item on our list is infection. So we are talking about what? Mastitis, thrush? Am I missing anything here?

HELEN ANDERSON: A whole range of things. So infection can be on the skin, on the nipple or it can be in the breast tissue itself. If an infection is on the skin or on the nipple, that’s going to be easy to see, easy to diagnose, because we are going to see a red, painful, maybe some inflammation or swelling. But if it is inside the breast, that’s a little more difficult to diagnose. What you are going to feel is a really deep ache inside the breast and that’s caused by inflammation of the tubes that carry the milk from the ducks to the nipple. As you can imagine as those tubes get swollen, they get narrow and then it is really difficult to move the milk out. So you may experience plugged ducks and remember, when you can’t see the infection you will still feel like you are sick. So having an infection inside the breast is going to feel like you have a fever, you have chills, and you may have increasing pain in your breast. And these are all reasons to see a lactation consultant. You will probably have a lump in your breast as well where you have inflammation and possibly a cloth duct.

SUNNY GAULT: So what you are describing as far as the chills and everything that is something that I do have some experience with. And I only had it with my twins, but my twins I definitely breastfed longer than my boys, and so… I believe it was in my left side and it was so strange. This came on so fast. I remember getting up in the morning and getting dressed. And noticing kind of like a red striking on the top of the breast. And I will tell you what. Probably within an hour, an hour and a half, I felt sicker than a dog. I literally climbed back into bed, I told my husband I’m like I’m not functional today, this is like… It felt like an intense flue. I couldn’t even think about anything touching the nipple area, like there was no way I was tandem breastfeeding that day. Everyone was going to have to go through the right breast. There was no way! But at least I still had one size that was functional. But yeah, it happened so, so fast. I remember drinking a bunch of liquids, and I was calling all my lactation consultant friends going: hey, what is this? Because I never had this with my boys and this is just crazy. I was just so amazed at how fast it happened and then luckily for me, it went away just as fast. And I know that’s not always the case with everybody, but by the next day I was up on my feet and everything was good. But it literally knocked me out for a day.

HELEN ANDERSON: Yes, I had mastitis with my second. And I had it I think day 3 or 4 postpartum when you have all this other stuff going on with your body, and hormonally. And it really knocked me out too. And I felt really like… You know, we had people coming over to see the baby, and we had to clear the calendar because I was just not in the mood of any of that stuff. So I actually did go and see my doctor and got an antibiotic, and the next day I felt fine.

SUNNY GAULT: Ok, and then another thing on our list is vasospasm, sometimes referred to as vasospasm, so you guys can pronounce it however you want. It also known as Raynaud's phenomenon, so tell us a little bit about this, Helen?

HELEN ANDERSON: So what we have with Raynaud’s phenomenon essentially is when cold temperatures cause a decrease in blood circulations to different parts of the body. This can be seen in fingers, in toes, and also in nipples. So the whole mark sign is really a change in color. So the body part that is affected by the Raynaud’s will have a purplish, or red, or blueish color. It is also very painful and it can be numb as well. And then when it kind of comes back it has that pins and needles feeling.

SUNNY GAULT: Ok, is it the vasospasm the same thing? How are those two tied together?

HELEN ANDERSON: They are very similar, yes. They are very similar. Vasospasm is kind of another, a broader term for Raynaud’s. Raynaud’s is a little bit more specific. And vasospasm kind of encompasses a wider range of conditions that has to do with kind of nerve pain that happens in different parts of the body.

SUNNY GAULT: And Amanda, I know you had some experience with this one too. Tell us about it.

AMANDA HALL: Yes, well this is where after about month and a half … month-ish that I clued-in this is not normal. I hadn’t heard any moms that I had talked to and I talk to a lot of moms describing this and it was not the engorgement because I experienced some intense feeling with engorgement and it wasn’t engorgement and I started really looking at my nipples and what would happen is after she would unlatch, my nipple would turn white and probably about … it was a delayed reaction maybe it could be a minute, it could be almost five minutes, I would be either laying there in bed or sitting there and all of the sudden, like Helen described, the pins and needles into the nipple. How I would describe it as, when your hands or arm goes to sleep and it is starting to wake up again and you have that really pins and needle feeling, that’s almost exactly how it was but intense white in your nipple and that is not … that hurts, that just hurts. And even if I wasn’t … if I’d hadn’t gotten done nursing her … I had my little girl in December so if I’d go to … outside in that cold air would hit my nipples even, you know, I am wearing a shirt obviously and clothes, but even under everything it was that pins and needles pain.

So the cold air every time she unlatched, that’s what … it was like “okay, this isn’t normal”. So I started doing the Google search and you know, consulting Dr. Google; I did go on to some more reputable websites like KellyMom was one I used a lot during this, trying to diagnose self-diagnose what was going on and she talked about the blanching of the skin and the pain of the nipple and then I started trying to go on baby center to see how long this lasted and where I got all types of answers and with some moms it ended in three months. I talked to a lactation consultant, she said she had it, every time she nursed for over a year with her little one; it was all across the board with how long it is lasting. So that’s my experience … the pain is a little down a lot but it is still there but not as severe as it was in the beginning.

SUNNY GAULT: And then how did you treat it? What did you do to make it feel better?

AMANDA HALL: Well, the lactation consultant I talked to and what I read online, there was really nothing … there is no prescription you can go get, there is really nothing … there is very little information actually out there about it with what is causing it, to try to prevent it. I just had to manage the pain with Ibuprofen and Tylenol, I really used Ibuprofen because I was thinking of maybe it is the swelling or something going on, inflammation in the breast. So I relied heavily on Ibuprofen. I probably took that daily for three months and just recently have been able to start doing a little down to taking it more of on demand. I knew the time when I woke up, I took my Ibuprofen; about 2 or 3, I took some more and then if I went to bed late, I took another dose; I mean I knew exactly when I needed to take it just to manage the pain.

SUNNY GAULT: But that seemed to help then?

AMANDA HALL: It did, it did help a lot.

SUNNY GAULT: So, I have some experience with this too and I will tell you what I did to manage this and Helen, feel free to say don’t do this because I don’t know if this is something women should do. I don’t know why but I didn’t think about taking medicine for it because I wanted instant relief, right. So and I didn’t proactively do anything, it was more about just managing it if it happened and I had it happen on both breasts and for me it didn’t seem to be dependent on feeling cold or anything like that and it was just during the time I was feeding my twins. I never had this with my boys. So this was like “what is going on here” and I experiences the blanching and everything that you were talking about but what I would do was when I felt that pain, I would actually just squeeze the nipple a little bit so I felt … when I would look at because you look down and the nipple would look white, right and so I would just squeeze a little bit; when I did that, it looked like it got more blood flow and then it went away. Helen, feel free to tear me down, if that is a bad thing.

HELEN ANDERSON: No, if it works for you and really pain is in the brain, right. So if you do something that kind of distracts you and makes you feel like it works, then I say go ahead and do it; I would think it wouldn’t affect your milk supply and it made you feel better right away so maybe if everybody else starts doing that.

AMANDA HALL: I agree, it would be the Sunny Method, you know, just pinch your nipple a little bit to get more blood.

HELEN ANDERSON: A nipple pinching.

SUNNY GAULT: Just out of necessity really because that pain is so intense and for me it would happen all the time completely random and I just wasn’t prepared for it and now that Amanda is sharing that she took some medicine in the beginning and the end of the day, I wish I would have thought of that; I don’t know why I didn’t, it was just more about managing it when it happens. Okay so the last thing on our list is allodynia and functional pain so for people who haven’t heard of allodynia, what is that Helen?

HELEN ANDERSON: That’s when a light latch is very painful so stimulus that shouldn’t necessarily cause pain, for instance when you get out of the shower and you dry off your breasts and your nipples, usually that wouldn’t be painful but for ladies who have allodynia, it is excruciating.

SUNNY GAULT: Wow, so does it have to just be in the breast area or allodynia is like touching someone in general and it hurts?

HELEN ANDERSON: So allodynia can be kind of diffuse medical condition where you can have a lot of pain that kind of just really innocent stimulus anywhere on your body but we really see it in breastfeeding because there is so much stimulus going on there in the nipple, you know, twelve times per day somebody is putting their mouth there and really stimulating that tissue on a really constant basis. And so for moms with allodynia, they are going to go with Amanda’s treatment of really taking an inset like Naproxen or Ibuprofen on a regular basis, really around the clock just like Amanda did so that you don’t have any of that breakthrough pain because it can be really excruciating and something that is really very persistent. So moms that have allodynia are the most frequently diagnosed with post-partum depression because it is so persistent and it is so painful and there is not really a way they can avoid the pain because just breastfeeding, putting on a bra, changing our nursing pads can cause a lot of pain. It can get really exhausting to be in pain that frequently.

SUNNY GAULT: Absolutely. So we have given everyone kind of a general list not to play Dr. Google, not to diagnose ourselves but just to kind of give you an idea of what could be causing it obviously we want you guys to seek support from a professional to be able to really kind of guide what you do from here on now. Amanda, how are you coping overall with the pain? Is it gone, you still kind of taking the medicine and doing that kind of stuff? Where the things stand today for you considering your baby was born five-six months ago, right?

AMANDA HALL: Yeah, she is four and a half months, almost five months so yeah. Today I feel really good. I am glad I really stuck it out because it was really touching and go there in the beginning and it impacted our relationship a lot, our breastfeeding relationship a lot. It was stressful, I was crying a lot, I was just in pain and Helen talked a little bit about how this can really affect post-partum depression and I tried to keep that in mind.
My mom would tell me you know “it is okay if you can’t do this” and kind of giving me that permission to pump or try something else because I pumped with my son and it really … I would be at this point where I was just frustrated; I would read on mommy centers or mommy blogs that this was a badge, a mommy badge and I almost got frustrated with that token because I know tons of moms that never have had a problem with nursing and it is frustrating that I wasn’t at that place.

I just counted every day and after a while, I stopped counting the days and our relationship has blossomed into this really beautiful nursing relationship. And now the pain is not the forefront of my mind, it is no longer the thing I am thinking about when I am waking up; I will notice that it sneaks up on me on occasion and I have to manage it at that point but just some Tylenol or Ibuprofen but it is not on a constant basis and it isn’t something that is dictating the day anymore. So it has changed a lot so I am really glad that I hung in there and worked with it because there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

SUNNY GAULT: Good, well thank you for sharing your experience with us; I think that will help a lot of moms out there and Helen, thank you for being with us today and sharing your expertise as well and thanks to everyone for listening to our show. If you are a member of our Boob Group Club, then please be sure to check out our bonus content for this episode. If you have persistent pain now with breastfeeding, you may be wondering if you will have it with future children that you decide to breastfeed as well so we are going to talk about that and what your chances might be. For more information about our club, visit our website at

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SUNNY GAULT: Alright. So before we wrap up our show, we do have a question from one of our listeners and this comes from Hailey; she wrote us on Facebook and Hailey said: Hi there. Can you please give me some advice? I am really having difficulty getting my ten-week-old to take a bottle. Up until recently, she has only had a bottle on rare occasions when I have had to go out alone and she is taking it without much protest even with formula when I hadn’t had any expressed. But all of the sudden after a break of a couple of weeks, she has refused to take a bottle at all. We have tried different bottles and teeth and we have been using expressed milk at body temperature but she just screams and spits everything out. I am really getting worried as there are some days I am going to have to leave her with daddy and he gets really stressed out when she won’t have it and gets upset. I am going to go back to work in a couple of months and she is going to the nursery so she is going to have to take a bottle by then. Do you have any ideas as to what we could try? Thank you.

MICHELLE STULBERGER: Hi Hailey. This is Michelle Stulberger from Metropolitan Breastfeeding. I am an IBCLC located in the Washington DC area. First off, it would be a good idea just to check and make sure that you aren’t having issues with lipase in your milk which can cause the milk to taste soapy; you can also smell a soapy smell. This can happen with freshly expressed milk as well as thawed milk so just check it each time you pump to be sure. Next, try and change up the baby’s routine; give the bottle while she is in her car seat, walk or bounce slightly while giving her the bottle or even try using a small cup or spoon to try something different. I know this is frustrating but just try and stay calm. Lastly, reach out to a qualified lactation consultant to get in-person help. Good luck.

SUNNY GAULT: So if you guys have a question for any of our experts, we would love to pass that information on to them. You can go to our website at, click on the contact button at the bottom and you can e-mail us that way. You can post something to our Facebook page or send us an e-mail through Facebook. And we will try to get your question answered. That wraps up our show for today. I know it was a longer one. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me.

Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
∞ Preggie Pals for expecting parents
∞ Newbies for newly postpartum moms
∞ Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
∞ Twin Talks for parents with multiples.

This is The Boob Group where moms know breast!

This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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