How to Tell if You Have Flat Nipples?
Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. Nipples do as well. You could have anywhere from inverted to flat, all the way to elastic nipples. These various shapes and sizes can make an impact on your breastfeeding journey. In this post, we’ll take a look at flat nipples and how they might change a mother’s breastfeeding journey.
Flat Nipples are flush with your areola. They typically do not extend beyond the shape of your breast. Flat nipples are not inverted. One way to tell if you have flat nipples is to compress or squeeze your areola. Place your thumb and forefinger on either side of your areola, about an inch behind your nipple. If there is no general change in the shape of your nipple you likely have flat nipples. One note is that your nipples may appear flat if your breasts are engorged.
How do Flat Nipples Impact Your Breastfeeding Journey?
Some mothers with flat nipples may find breastfeeding slightly challenging. With a little bit of patience and maybe a little bit of extra work, moms with flat nipples can breastfeed as well. The reason moms find it challenging is because a baby needs to draw the nipple into their mouth for a successful latch. To learn more about latching and the mechanics click here.
What Can You Do If You Have Flat Nipples and Want to Breastfeed?
When you are ready to breastfeed, you may be able to help your baby stimulate your nipple and evert it a bit which makes it easier for your baby to latch. You can do this with your fingers, or your baby can help you. You can assist your nipple by pulling back a bit on your surrounding breast tissue to make the nipple stand out more.
Nipple Eversion Devices:
A lactation consultant might recommend using a nipple eversion device. These are aids that help to shape your nipple so that a baby can latch and nurse. You can use these on your own but it’s beneficial to seek expert guidance when learning to use these devices.
These little nursing aids will help your baby to be able to draw your nipple tissue into their mouth, form a seal, and nurse. They're easy to use and to wash, and can be purchased from a variety of places. If you are new to nipple shields, a lactation professional can demonstrate how to use them along with provide other suggestions for nursing with flat nipples.
Change Your Position:
Various breastfeeding positions have different benefits. Some positions help to facilitate a deeper latch like the football hold. Mothers who are learning to breastfeed with flat nipples might be engorged. If this resonates with you, try reclining or laying on your side and breastfeeding. For more information on the various breastfeeding positions, check out this helpful post!
Can Moms with Flat Nipples Pump?
Of course moms with flat nipples can pump. In fact, some moms with this breast shape find pumping works better for them and their baby than nursing. They’re able to give their baby all of the benefits of breast milk while avoiding the pain and emotional struggle of trying to make nursing work when it’s a challenge.
Pumping Can Help You Nurse
You can use a pump, manual or electric to help you nurse your baby if you have flat nipples. A pump works like a nipple eversion device by helping to shape your nipple so that your baby can latch. Pumps also help to stimulate your letdown, which means that your baby has less work to do if you start off by pumping a bit.
Tips for Pumping with Flat Nipples
1. Use the proper sized flange.
2. You don't need additional/stronger suction than any other mom so try a few settings and find what works for you.
3. Lubrication makes everything better, especially pumping.