I have been EP-ing for 6 weeks now, and my nipples are still pink, raw, sore, tender, etc., and the first few minutes of each pump are painful even on the lowest setting. (After about 5 minutes I can start slowly start turning it up.)
I say "still" because I've been telling myself to just hang in there a little longer, that eventually they should "toughen up" or "get accustomed to it" or something. For the most part they feel like they're sunburnt, and heaven help me if something brushes against them, such as every time I change my bra or shower or THINK about something brushing against them, cuz OW!!!
It even hurts to carry LO sometimes, especially in the burp/shoulder carry ...
I am using a Medela PISA with the XL Pumpin Pal flanges plus olive oil, and I pump every 3-4 hours (in anticipation of my return to work in 2 days, when I'll only be able to pump every 4 hours if I'm lucky).
So ... is there hope? Or is this just the way it is for EP-ers?