Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding

If you get sore nipples when breastfeeding, it's usually because your baby is not positioned and attached properly at the breast.

It's important not to stop breastfeeding. With help, feeding should quickly become more comfortable again.

Get help early for sore nipples

If you find 1 or both nipples hurt at every feed, or your nipples start to crack or bleed, it's important to get help from your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter as soon as you can.

They can watch as you feed your baby and help you get them correctly positioned and attached to the breast.

When your baby is effectively attached, your nipple rests comfortably against the soft palate at the back of their mouth.

If your baby is poorly attached to the breast, the nipple is nearer the front of their mouth and can be pinched against the hard palate, causing pain.

Flattened, wedged or white nipples at the end of a feed are a sign your baby may not be properly attached. Your baby may also seem unsettled after feeds.

Having sore nipples when you're trying to breastfeed a new baby can be stressful and upsetting.

Try to carry on breastfeeding or express milk by hand if you can, and ask for help early.

Learn more about expressing milk by hand

Self-help tips for sore nipples

Bear in mind that self-help tips will not be effective if your baby is poorly attached during breastfeeds.

But you may find it helps to:

If your nipples start to crack, try dabbing a little expressed breast milk onto them after feeds.


Get help early if your nipples are cracked or bleeding, as this increases your risk of getting an infection in your nipple.

If nipple pain does not improve

If your baby is properly positioned and attached at the breast during feeds and your nipples are still sore, ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter for help.

There may be an underlying problem, such as an infection like thrush.

Find out more about breastfeeding and thrush