I have started to pump, but it hurts! Is this normal?
First off, pumping should not hurt.
When pumping, make sure the suction is not turned up too high. The sweet spot is a suction you feel comfortable with but one that is also strong enough to remove breast milk actively.
Make sure your pump flange fits your breast correctly, meaning your nipple should fit inside the flange tube when the pump is turned on. The pump should not pull much of your areola (dark skin around the nipple) into the tube. Your nipple should not rub the sides of the tube.
After pumping, your nipple should be round with normal color. If it’s white or purple, speak with a Lactation Consultant about steps to correct this. Express and dab breast milk on your nipple before and after pumping to soothe irritation, followed by nipple cream. Many mothers find gel pads or cool packs soothing after pumping. But if you have a condition called Raynaud’s, it’s better to use warmth on your nipple afterward. These tips can help lessen nipple damage, which can cause pain when pumping.
If you have been pumping only or pumping for several months because you returned to work or school, your breasts can change. You may benefit from a bigger or smaller flange size. If you need help with flange sizing, speak with a Certified Lactation Consultant or your WIC nurse.
When pumping is painful, it’s always best to reach out to a healthcare professional to receive assistance and support!