Inverted Nipples, Flat Nipples, and Breastfeeding

6/26/2018

Breasts and nipples come in many different shapes and sizes, and when babies begin breastfeeding they learn how to breastfeed on their mother’s unique breast and nipple. If you have flat or inverted nipples, it is possible to breastfeed – it may just be more of a challenge and require some assistance and patience.

Why does nipple shape matter?

The nipple is an important part of babies’ sucking behavior; feeling the nipple at the roof of the mouth causes a reflex to suck. If a baby is unable to feel the nipple, this may cause frustration (for mom and baby!) and latching issues.

How do I know if I have flat or inverted nipples?

You can check for flat or inverted nipples by performing a simple test. Gently compress your areola with your thumb and index finger about an inch behind your nipple.

  • Flat – nipple doesn’t go in or out
  • Inverted – nipple retreats or goes inward

Can I breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples?

If you’ve learned you have flat or inverted nipples and want to breastfeed, don’t worry. Sometimes, changes during pregnancy may resolve the issue naturally, and nipples will protrude on their own. Keep in mind that it will also depend on how elastic your breast tissue is, and how interested your baby is. Sometimes a baby with a good latch can help to draw nipples out.

Knowledge is power! Knowing whether you have flat or inverted nipples ahead of time is a great advantage for a breastfeeding mom-to-be, because you can work with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant before baby arrives to prepare and discuss breastfeeding strategies. Always use a nipple shield under the guidance and direction of your Lactation Consultant! She may also encourage you to use a breast pump to prevent engorgement and help draw out the nipple.

Challenges like flat or inverted nipples and breastfeeding can be overcome – by both you and baby! It may just take a little time, encouragement, and help, but you can do it. Working through this challenge early on in your breastfeeding journey will help you continue giving the best to your baby!

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