Breastfeeding frequency, milk volume, and duration in mother-infant dyads with persistent nipple pain

Breastfeed Med. 2012 Aug;7:275-81. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2011.0117. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Background: Nipple pain and insufficient milk supply are major causes of early weaning. We have found that persistent nipple pain was associated with strong infant sucking vacuums during breastfeeding. Several studies indicate that nipple pain and abnormal infant sucking have the potential to reduce milk transfer. We aimed to determine whether women with persistent nipple pain had low milk supply.

Subjects and methods: The 24-hour milk production and feeding characteristics of mothers with persistent nipple pain (n=21) were compared with those mothers without nipple pain (n=21). Milk productions were measured by test-weighing the infant before and after every feed from each breast over a 24-26-hour period. Comparisons were made using Student's t tests and linear mixed models as appropriate.

Results: Lower milk productions were associated with longer meal durations for mothers with pain. There were no significant differences in the average 24-hour milk production or any feeding characteristics between the groups. However, four women with persistent nipple pain had milk production levels below 500 mL/day.

Conclusions: The majority of breastfeeding women experiencing persistent nipple pain were able to achieve normal milk production levels. Feeding duration and frequency were similar to those of women not experiencing pain. However, longer meal durations in the pain group were associated with lower levels of milk production. Further investigation is necessary to identify mothers most affected by maternal nipple pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects*
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Lactation / psychology
  • Male
  • Milk, Human
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Nipples / injuries*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pregnancy
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Weaning
  • Western Australia / epidemiology