If you have flat or inverted nipples, you may be wondering about whether you can successfully breastfeed your baby. The good news is that in most cases, you can. But there will likely be some challenges with getting your baby to latch properly at first. Here are some things to consider when breastfeeding with inverted nipples.
Your milk supply could be affected
In and of itself, having inverted nipples shouldn’t disrupt your ability to produce milk. However, if your baby cannot effectively latch because of inverted nipples, your supply could be altered because the baby’s latch and sucking motion is what stimulates production and “let down” of the milk supply during nursing.
A good latch will overcome most issues
If your baby has a strong sucking motion and latches properly, there shouldn’t be any issue with breastfeeding with inverted nipples. The key is to be sure your baby has as much of your breast as possible in their mouth. The baby pulls the nipple up and in against the roof of the mouth to nurse. Done effectively, this motion should draw out the nipple and mitigate the problem. For this reason, nursing with inverted nipples will be easier the longer you do it and for subsequent children. Each time the nipple is drawn out for extended periods of time, the easier it becomes and you may even find that nipples don’t draw in as much after being repeatedly extended during breastfeeding.
Devices to draw inverted nipples out
There are several devices available to draw inverted nipples out, and they can be used before baby arrives as well as immediately before nursing. Nipple formers, also called breast shells or cups, can be worn to naturally draw nipples outward.
Prep inverted nipples right before breastfeeding
You can use a breast pump immediately prior to breastfeeding to draw your nipples out. The gentle suction from the pump will naturally cause nipples to protrude, getting them ready for a nursing baby. Lansinoh also has a “latch assist device” which is designed to draw the nipple out and make it easier for baby to latch effectively for breastfeeding.
Be mindful of engorgement
All mothers should try to nurse as soon as reasonable after delivery, but for moms with inverted nipples, this is especially important. Your baby’s ability to latch and draw milk through the nipple will be important to alleviating the engorgement that often accompanies the arrival of breast milk. For the first day or two, there will only be colostrum, but once your milk comes in, it will be critical that your baby can effectively nurse – or you have effectively express milk by pumping or by hand – to avoid or alleviate painful engorgement.
If you have inverted nipples and plan to breastfeed your baby, talk with your medical care provider and seek consultation with a lactation specialist. Most issues with inverted nipples can be overcome and you’ll have no problem breastfeeding your baby.