Ask Judy: Is This Nipple Pain Normal?

Hey Judy, I have a question for you, hope you can help.

I’m dealing with some nipple pain and I don’t know what I should do about it. My daughter is still nursing now at 14 months, and we’ve never dealt with any latch-related nipple pain (mostly because she learned with a nipple shield, and by the time we gave that up, she was an accomplished nurser and her latch was good.) The only pain I’ve ever had is when I’m menstruating, I get very sensitive nipples, and they can be a little tender. Also, my nipples are a little more sensitive when she nurses because she has 5 teeth that I can feel a little. But about a week ago, my right nipple began to hurt. I had my period, so I wrote it off as just that. It wasn’t major, I checked for plugged ducts, didn’t find anything.

Toward the end of my period, it still hurt a little, and then, a few days ago, my daughter bit me for the first time, on that nipple. It really hurt. I checked to see if I was bleeding, and I didn’t see any marks at all. It seemed like she did it absentmindedly, though, like she zoned out a little because she was tired, and just closed her jaw. The next day (I think) when I pumped at work, I got virtually nothing out of that breast. The other was fine.

Now, the nipple is really sore (the actual nipple, not the areola) and there is a tiny little crack at the base that has scabbed slightly, and that spot hurts the most. It hurts more to nurse than to pump, but I can basically feel it all day, anytime the nipple rubs on my bra. My flow has returned to that breast, though.

So… to my actual question:
It would seem that this is related to the bite, but is it possible that pain from a bite would last a few days? Or is it more likely something else? Should I see a lactation consultant about it (I know a good one) or is there something I can do at home to see if it helps first? I put lanolin on, but that hasn’t done much.

Sorry, I know it’s hard to figure these things out with just descriptions. Thanks for any help you can offer!

Hi Krista,

I often got pain nursing as my son got older – and it seemed to be related to my cycle – not actually getting my period – but perhaps ovulation – I never quite figured it out. Anyway – it would happen every month and just when I thought I couldn’t take it any longer, it would go away. So that part sounds kind of normal to me. And the fact that it has developed as your daughter has gotten older sounds kind of normal too – because you may be ovulating or having a more “real” cycle now vs what you got when she was younger.

As far as the bite, I’m not surprised that the pain has lasted a few days – especially if it was hard enough to leave a mark. However, I think it is always best to be safe – so especially since you have a good lactation consultant that you can call – I would definitely recommend checking in with her and perhaps going to see your OB/GYN too if it doesn’t feel ‘back to normal’ pretty quickly.

Best of luck and congrats on making it to the 14 month mark! That is fantastic!!

Have you ever had nipple pain associated with your menstrual cycle? Do you have any other advice for Krista? Please leave a comment with your thoughts/tips/advice.

4 comments to Ask Judy: Is This Nipple Pain Normal?

  • I had a friend email to ask why she was having sudden nipple pain when her daughter, at about 9 months, was nursing. I told her she should expect her period to be coming back and I was right. I think this is very common and nipple pain was my first clue when my period returned when my son was about 8 months old. If a mom returns to work, she seems to get her period back lickety split, even if she’s pumping well and frequently.

    Thankfully my son never bit me hard, but I can see how a bit that would leave a mark could cause pain that would last a few days. I’d squirt some milk on it and leave it alone. It should be fine in a few days.

  • Ann Marie

    Last time my LO bit me (a couple of weeks ago), it took around 5 days to clear up. What helped me was laying down to nurse on that side when I could, because she was nursing at a different angle and not on the sore spot. Even while sitting, I could often make her unlatch and re-latch at a different angle (sitting up or lying down more) and it would feel 50% better with just a small adjustment.

    So… if you don’t see anything going on, and it feels kind of like a bite that still needs to heal, you might be able to wait a few days and see how it goes.

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  • Krista

    Hey, thank you so much for the input! Things have turned out really well. I saw a LC, and she gave me great tips for many things, including taking ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation, all-purpose nipple ointment for the cut, what to do if she bites again, and how to keep my supply up (pump on the sore side, nurse on the good side) during the healing time. Things are back to normal and we’re nursing as we were! Yay!

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