From our bodies to our parenting styles, all Mamas are unique. We come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and so do our nipples. Just look through our blog! We’ve got posts on elastic nipples, flat nipples, nipples that are different sizes, and now we’re talking about inverted nipples. If you are wondering what inverted nipples are, if I can breastfeed with inverted nipples, or other questions, keep reading.
What Are Inverted Nipples?
First and foremost, what are we talking about? Inverted nipples are when the nipple tissue of your breast, inverts or rests lower than the areola. Another way to envision this is when the nipple is indented. Some women may experience inverted nipples on both breasts, and some may only have one inverted nipple. Either case is totally normal, even if it feels a bit different. According to VeryWell Health, approximately 10%-20% of people have inverted nipples.
Can I Breastfeed with Inverted Nipples
The answer to this burning question is yes, you can breastfeed with inverted nipples. It might take a bit more work or prep but this breast shape does not mean the end of your breastfeeding journey, whether you want to nurse, pump, or a combination of the two.
It turns out that we’re already equipped with one of the best tools to help evert our nipples. Using your fingers, try manually stimulating your nipple. This may evert, or perk up your nipple so that your baby can latch.
In addition to manual stimulation, you can use your hand to help change the shape of your breast. By using the c-hold or v-hold, and cupping your breast, bring the breast tissue around your nipple back and away from the nipple. This may change the shape of your breast just enough for your baby to latch.
This is a big ol’ fancy way to say “breast suction to change the shape of your nipple, tool”. You can invest in one of these devices which look a lot like the old time-y breast pumps of yore..or an old bicycle horn. You can also use a silicone breast pump like a Haakaa in place of buying an additional device.
These handy little aids are applied to your breast before and used while nursing. They can help to shape your nipple and aid your baby in latching. There are disposable and reusable/washable versions that you can find online and in stores. Do a bit of research or speak to a lactation professional about these tools. Some are of the idea that these inhibit the transfer of milk so proper fit and use is important.
If you are having trouble with breastfeeding due to your nipple shape, your breasts may become engorged. When your breasts are engorged, they are firmer and can be more difficult to manually change their shape. If you haven’t invested in a breast pump, or need a quick fix you can try hand expression.
Along with hand expression, pumping can help in a number of ways. One, you can gather milk to bottle feed your baby in between feedings. This can help to take the pressure off you, which can help dramatically. If manual stimulation doesn’t work, a breast pump might be just enough suction to change the shape of your nipple and help you and your baby achieve a latch.
Caring for Your Inverted Nipples
With the stimulation, nursing, and/or pumping, your sensitive skin might get a little irritated or raw. Using a bit of coconut oil or nipple butter between feedings or pumping sessions can help to both heal and protect this sensitive skin.
These products are food safe and do not interfere with on demand nursing. They also will not clog your pores and create bigger headaches for you. If you are pumping, using our breast pump flange cushions can help to further protect your nipples. You can combine food safe lubricants with the cushions for even more protection and to promote healing.