6 Reasons Your Nipples Turn Purple After Pumping

There are many possible reasons why your nipple turns purple after or during pumping. The most common reason for discoloration of the nipple during pumping or breastfeeding is because the blood vessels contract and restrict blood flow to the skin. When you stop pumping, the blood vessels relax, and your nipples return to their original color. It can be due to the wrong flange size. Try increasing the flange size, and you might see a difference. Other reasons can be over-pumping or keeping the level of suction and speed on a stronger level.

If you notice your nipples turning white after breastfeeding or pumping along with feeling intense pain in your nipples, then chances are that you’re suffering from nipple vasospasm. You should consult your doctor if the pain persists or if pumping/breastfeeding becomes uncomfortable.

Hi there, mama,

Pumping, like breastfeeding, should be easy and not at all painful. If you do experience pain while pumping or become very uncomfortable, then you’re doing something wrong.

For some women breastfeeding becomes painful when they have a shallow latch or the breastfeeding position isn’t correct, and it’s the same when you pump.

You should keep in mind always that taking care of your baby shouldn’t be painful, and if it is, then you should definitely do your research and consult your doctor about it.

Being a first-time mom, I read all the books and watched documentaries, but when you’re there, experiencing it, most often than not, you tend to forget about everything you read.

You read about pregnancy and delivery, but a very small number of women actually read about what happens once that baby arrives.

I wanted to breastfeed, and I did, but I didn’t do it correctly. My baby had a shallow latch which led to sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples. I overcame that slowly, but it did take a long time.

I started pumping once I started working, but I was in severe pain every time I pumped. I pushed myself to pump more because I thought maybe it was supposed to hurt. After all, a machine is doing it for me.

Had I done my research or consulted the lactation consultant, I would have saved myself from so much pain, and it turns out that I wasn’t using the right kind of pump, flanges and the position wasn’t at all right.

Why does your nipple changes color while pumping?

1. Using the wrong flange size

The flange is the part of the breast pump that goes over your breast and nipple. Unfortunately, most women use the standard flange size available that comes with the breast pump and don’t realize that a flange is not one-size-fits-all like many jeans available in the market.

Many brands offer different flange sizes, and the size chart is also available on their website. So, measure your nipples and buy a different flange size that will fit perfectly on your breasts.

If you end up buying a larger size, then it’s of no use as there will be too much gap, and the suction won’t be effective enough. On the other hand, if you end up with a smaller flange size, then nipples will end up rubbing on the sides of the inner pump instead of being drawn into the inner funnel, which can definitely cause nipple discoloration and pain.

2. Placing the breast pump incorrectly

Once you get the flange size correct, the next step is to correctly place the breast pump onto your breasts. Your nipple should be in the center, i.e., in the middle of the flange, not to the left, not to the right, and it should be in the middle.

If you don’t place the breast pump correctly, you may experience sore nipples and even nipple trauma and bruise to the nipple and areola.

3. Keeping suction and speed on the highest level

If you think that by keeping the suction and speed level on the higher side, your milk will come out quickly, and you’ll be done within seconds, then you couldn’t be more wrong.

Keep the suction and speed level always on the lower side while starting and gradually increase. If you’re in a rush and want 3 oz within 5 minutes, then it’s better to prepare a bottle for your baby instead of pumping because you can’t rush your way through pumping. It does take time, so plan your day accordingly.

Find a comfortable setting that mimics how your baby nurses, which will let the milk flow easily. Overdoing the suction and speed level will not only lead to sore nipples but will also produce less milk.

4. Pumping for a prolonged time

Excessive pumping will only lead to discoloration because of limited blood flow to your nipples and sore nipples. However, it can also lead to overstimulation and oversupply.

Keep 15 minutes of pumping time for each breast. If you’re still getting milk, you can pump for a little longer but keep it for only 5 more minutes.

5. Vasospasms

If you have a family history of Raynaud’s phenomenon or have cold feet and hands because of poor blood circulation, chances are that you may suffer from nipple vasospasms.

Vasospasms can occur in any blood vessels in the body like the heart, brain, hands, or eyes. It’s because the blood circulation is restricted, leading to that part of the body turning white.

Along with the discoloration of the nipples, you might even experience extreme nipple pain like burning or throbbing. You may suffer from mild to severe nipple pain.

Your nipple can even turn white or extreme red before changing to the original color. Consult your doctor if you do experience these symptoms.


Do soft breasts mean a low milk supply?

It’s normal for mothers’ breasts to feel less full, soft, not engorged, and even empty, but that doesn’t mean you have a low milk supply. As long as your baby pees more than 6 times a day and gains weight, there’s nothing to worry about.

Do breasts take time to refill?

Breasts are never fully empty. Instead, it produces milk nonstop. As much as your baby removes milk from your breasts, your breasts will make more milk.

Why do my nipples swell when I pump?

If you use a flange size that’s too big, then the areola can swell from the suction. By using the right flange size, you can continue expressing milk and even increase your milk supply.


So, whether you’re breastfeeding or exclusive pumping or doing both, you need to do things correctly, like having a correct latch, using the right flange size, and positioning your breasts correctly into breast pumps while breastfeeding for an effortless session.

If you use the wrong flange size, pump for way more than the recommended time, or overdo the suction and speed level, you will have sore nipples, and your nipples might change color due to this.

But, even after changing flange sizes, correcting your latch, or keeping the suction level at the minimum, if you’re still experiencing pain, consult your doctor immediately.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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