Very painful nipples can be protected from contact with clothing by wearing hard plastic shells in the bra between feedings. The shells come in contact with leaking milk and need to be cleaned frequently. Using crushed ice on the nipples before breastfeeding will often numb them enough to make nursing bearable. Beginning the feeding on the least sore side may also assist in the mother's comfort. Taking mild over-the-counter pain medication (whatever the mother finds effective when she has a bad headache) can also be useful.
Hand-expressing to encourage the milk-ejection reflex before latching the baby on may also help. Meticulous care in latch-on and positioning will help as can shorter but more frequent nursing times. Carefully breaking the suction with a clean finger (and washing it well afterward!) before detaching the baby can minimize discomfort as well. Some mothers wet their finger in their mouths before using it to detach the baby; this is never a good idea.
Some mothers find they cannot tolerate the baby nursing until their nipple pain has decreased. Using an automatic electric breast pump set on the minimum suction and feeding the baby the expressed milk with a cup, spoon, dropper, syringe or finger-feeding with a tube device may save a breastfeeding relationship. Abrupt weaning is never recommended, especially when there is already pain. Allowing the baby to take a few sips of water after nursing can help wash the milk from his mouth, making it less hospitable to yeast growth.