How to Prevent Friction Blisters When Breastfeeding

Friction blisters are raised, fluid-filled bubbles that form when something puts constant pressure on the same area of the skin, or when something rubs up against the skin over and over again.

Friction blisters on your breasts and nipples can be painful and interfere with breastfeeding. Try these strategies to help prevent friction blisters from forming.  


Make Sure Baby Is Latching Correctly

mother breastfeeding baby on bed

Hero Images / Getty Images

Learn the signs of a good latch vs. a poor latch. An incorrect latch can lead to a decrease in your milk supply and some of the common problems of breastfeeding, including friction blisters.

If your baby does not latch on well, remove them from your breast and try again.

If you aren't sure how to tell if your baby is latching on correctly, ask for assistance from your doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local breastfeeding group.  


Alternate Nursing Positions

Not only does rotating nursing positions help to drain all the areas of your breasts, but it also prevents the same part of your areola from getting all the rubbing and pressure of your baby's latch.

Learn how to latch your baby on in the cross-cradle hold, football hold, side-lying, and laid-back nursing positions so that you have a variety of options.  


Alternate Breasts When Feeding

A baby's suck is usually the strongest at the beginning of each feeding. When you alternate the breast on which you begin each feeding, the same breast won't constantly be exposed to the greatest pressure.

Alternating breasts is also an important part of establishing and maintaining a healthy supply of breast milk. 

If you have trouble remembering which breast to begin the next feeding on, try using strategies to help remind yourself.


Remove Baby From the Breast Correctly

Not all babies release the breast on their own after a feeding. If your baby likes to remain attached to your breast after nursing, learn how to break the suction of a latch correctly so you can remove your child from your breast without causing any breast damage.   


Use a Breast Pump Safely

When you start pumping, use a low setting. Then, gradually increase the suction until your let-down reflex is triggered, and the milk is flowing from your breast. As you continue to pump, a low to medium level of suction should be all that you need.

Using a breast pump at consistently high levels of suction can be painful and it can cause damage to your nipples and breast tissue. 

It's also important that the flanges (shields) of your breast pump fit you well. Depending on the size of your nipples, you may need to use a different size flange. If the pump shield is too small, it could cause pain and rubbing that could lead to sore nipples and blisters


Use Nipple Shields Correctly

A nipple shield is a helpful breastfeeding tool, but it should only be used under the direct guidance of your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist.

When used incorrectly, a nipple shield can cause damage to your breasts and have a negative impact on breastfeeding.  


Wear a Nursing Bra That Fits

A nursing bra that fits you properly will be supportive without causing any pain. If your bra is too big or too small, it could rub against your skin and put excessive pressure on your breasts and nipples.  


Get Help

Sometimes you can do all the right things and still develop a blister. Most blisters will heal on their own in about a week. However, if you have a blister that just won't heal or blisters that keep coming back, seek help from your healthcare provider.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.