Breastfeeding Issues: Flat or Inverted Nipples

May 22, 2012

Breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples can be a challenge at first, as your baby may struggle to latch properly. However, with the help of a Lactation Consultant, many moms can still breastfeed successfully.

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

You can test for flat or inverted nipples by gently compressing your areola with your thumb and index finger about an inch behind your actual nipple. Your nipple should protrude once compressed, but if it pulls inward you most likely have flat or inverted nipples.

How can I breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples?

If you have flat or inverted nipples, changes during pregnancy may help relieve the issue naturally. For many moms, their nipples will naturally protrude more as they move through their pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding. After birth, be sure to work with a Lactation Consultant to ensure your baby latches properly. In some cases, if your baby latches well, he or she can help to draw your nipples out in the early stages of breastfeeding.

For some moms, it takes additional assistance from a Lactation Consultant to breastfeed successfully with flat or inverted nipples. In some cases, she may recommend the temporary use of a nipple shield to extend the length of your nipple for your baby. Nipple shields should be used under the guidance of a lactation professional and may make breastfeeding easier for your baby while also working to correct the flat or inverted nipple. The Lactation Consultant may encourage you to pump frequently to prevent engorgement and further draw out your nipple. She would make this recommendation because if your breasts become engorged, it will most likely stretch the skin around your nipple, exaggerating the flat or inverted nipple even more.

By working closely with a Lactation Consultant and following the suggestions above, many women with flat or inverted nipples are still able to breastfeed.

Moms, did you nurse with flat or inverted nipples? What helped most to make breastfeeding a success?


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