Breastfeeding with inverted nipple: Breastfeeding plays a fundamental role in a child’s growth. Aside from feeding and getting the nutrients, they need; it also creates a special bond between the mother and the baby.
Wet nursing naturally comes next after birth. However, it may not be easy for some moms, especially for those who have a flat or inverted nipple. Although it will not affect your milk production, breastfeeding with inverted nipples can actually be a little tricky at first.
What is inverted nipples?
What are inverted nipples? Just as breasts differ per person, nipples may also vary in shape, size, or look. Most people have an erect nipple, but around 10% of women have either an inverted or flat one.
You might be asking, what is inverted nipples and how can you identify if you have one? An inverted or retracted nipple simply means that the skin at the base of your nipple is attached to the breast tissue surrounding it. This is sometimes called an “innie.”
The type of your nipples can be identified depending on how they sit on your breasts. To identify what type of nipples you have, you can put a little pressure on your areola—the pigmented skin around your nipples.
Gently squeeze your areola and observe how your nipples will react. If it did not protrude, then you have a flat nipple. On the other hand, if it retracts or sinks, then it means you have an inverted nipple.
A person may have an inverted nipple for both breasts, but there are women with one inverted nipple while the other is protruded.
Photo by Mateusz Dach from Pexels
How does an inverted nipple affect breastfeeding?
Some believe that having an inverted nipple equates to being unable to nurse your newborn, but that is actually incorrect. Technically, the type of nipple you have does not play a part in your capability to breastfeed your baby.
Additionally, while the nipples play an important role in nursing, it is not the only thing responsible for feeding, that is why it is called breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding with inverted nipples can be more challenging compared to when you have a protruded one.
Your baby is latching on your breast for them to be able to feed. It should be able to reach the roof of its mouth to trigger its sucking reflex.
However, wet nursing with a flat or inverted nipple can cause your baby to have a hard time latching. As an effect, your baby might pull away and cry.
Aside from the baby, breastfeeding with flat inverted nipples might also take a toll on the mother. Since your baby is having a hard time latching, they might try to suck harder which can cause your nipples to sore. Additionally, since your inverted nipple is attached to breast tissues, bleeding may also occur.
Inverted nipples breastfeeding solutions
With the challenges that have been mentioned, you might already be thinking of ways how to correct inverted nipples for breastfeeding. Luckily, there are available tips and tools that can help you have easier flat, inverted nipples breastfeeding.
Listed below are some inverted nipple breastfeeding solutions. However, you need to keep in mind that the effectiveness of these may vary for different people.
1. Hand method
Before you breastfeed your baby, try to use your hands and fingers to help draw your nipples out. This is a natural method on how to correct inverted nipples for breastfeeding.
You can roll your nipples between your fingers and your thumb to help them protrude. Another method you can use is by placing your fingers in a “V” or “C” shape just around your areolas. Gently massage and press to encourage your nipples to stick out.
2. Ice method
If your hands do not help in your attempt to extend your nipples, you can always open your fridge and use ice instead. With a small piece of ice, gently scrub it around the nipples.
The coldness of it will send chills to the whole body and can cause instant nipple erection. If you’re not a fan of directly touching the ice, you can also use an ice pack as an alternative.
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
3. Nipple formers
Some people already have flat or retracted nipples since they were born. Others start to notice this as they grow.
Puberty plays a part in forming your nipples. Just as your other body parts and your breast changes when you’re growing, so does your nipples—they begin to protrude more. However, if you notice that yours is not and you are concerned that this may affect your breastfeeding once you give birth, you can use Nipple Formers during and after pregnancy.
A nipple former is a silicone disc that is used to help prepare a flat and inverted nipple for breastfeeding in a non-invasive way. You can start by wearing it for an hour a day until your body gets accustomed to it. After a while, you can build on using it for up to 8 hours.
It will still be best to consult a professional on which part of your pregnancy is the best time to start using nipple formers. Some mothers also opt to still use it even after giving birth. You just have to pop them inside your bra an hour before you breastfeed.
4. Nipple shield
Another tool that can help your baby to latch on your breast is the nipple shield. It is a piece of silicone that is shaped like a nipple. This has holes on the end to let your milk pass through from your breast to your baby’s mouth.
Unlike the nipple former used before nursing, the nipple shield is used during breastfeeding. This acts like an extension of your nipple and can give the baby a natural breastfeeding experience. To use this, you need to make sure first that your breast is clean. Afterward, put a few drops of your milk on the suction, and then place it on top of your areola.
Ensure that the placement of your nipple shield is aligned to your nipple.
5. Breast pump
A breast pump is not the most ideal way to feed a baby. However, if all the previous tricks and tools were of no use, you should consider using this instead. Initially, attempt to use a breast pump for a couple of minutes to help your nipples erect. If it still does not work, you can use pumping and feeding bottles as last resort.
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels
Flat inverted nipples breastfeeding
Flat and /or Inverted nipples may or may not be permanent. It will greatly help if you hold your baby skin-to-skin and frequently feed during the first few days when your breasts are still soft.
This will help practice both you and your baby for easier breastfeeding. With the sucking and pulling, your nipple might get more accustomed to breastfeeding and you might not need the help of any tools moving forward.
With all the struggles of breastfeeding, it will be best to always consult a professional to help you find the most effective method for your inverted nipple or breastfeeding concerns.
Professionals, such as your OB, midwife, or lactation consultant, can also educate you on different positioning techniques to help you and your baby have a painless and comfortable breastfeeding experience.
A flat or inverted nipple should not make you feel insecure because honestly, yours is as normal as the others.
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