Shooting Pain In Your Breast While Pumping

Shooting Pain In Your Breast While Pumping

There are a lot of options when it comes to pumping. A seemingly simple device has different modes and settings. Finding the right times for these modes and the right suction setting can take some trial and error. Unfortunately that trial and error comes at the sake of a very sensitive part of our bodies, time in our lives, and our very fragile breast milk supplies. If you have any pain, let alone shooting pain in your breast while pumping, it can break your pumping journey. 

In this post, we are going to specifically look at pain during a pumping session. You can check out this post for common causes of pain after pumping here, common causes of pain for exclusive pumping here, and even more about pain here

Yup, we’re pretty much experts in pumping pain and the perfect resource to help you troubleshoot what is derailing your pumping journey. We work with a lactation expert and research the various causes of pain for pumping moms to bring you informative posts that actually help so that you can be informed, make the right choices for your pumping journey, and seek medical or lactation help when you need it. If you are at the start of your pumping journey or want to learn more, check out this course

Causes of Shooting Breast Pain 

Clogged Ducts

Pain is almost always bad news. No one likes shooting pain and it’s even worse when it’s in your breast. The good news when the pain is caused by a clogged duct or mammary gland: continuing to pump is a good way to clear the clog. Yes, pumping can help stop the pain. If you don’t feel the pump clear after a normal pumping session, try using a manual pump which can give you greater control over the placement, direction, and length of the suction.

Intense Suction

When you want results, ratcheting up the settings can sound like a good idea in theory. When it comes to your sensitive tissue and your breast pump however, this is not always the case. Using suction that is too powerful for your body can have a negative effect. 

If you are feeling shooting pain in your breast while you pump, try adjusting the pump suction level. If the pain continues after trying a few different settings you should consult your doctor or a lactation specialist.


Vasospasms are typically talked about in terms of breastfeeding, but pumping is breastfeeding too. This is a technical term for the contraction of your blood cells reducing the blood flow to a certain area…in this case your breasts. This is typically described as painful tingling, burning, sometimes even like pins and needles. It can happen during and after pumping. 

According to experts, there are two typical causes of vasospasms in breastfeeding mothers, painful stimuli (aka baby not latching properly) or something called Raynauds. Raynauds can impact anyone and generally is a restriction of blood flow to extremities like your hands, feet, and face.  Sometimes pregnant and breastfeeding mothers may temporarily experience it. 

If you are experiencing this painful sensation you can try wearing clothing that keeps you relatively covered while pumping to help limit the exposure to cold. Avoiding things that constrict blood vessels like caffeine might also help.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.