My Nipples Are Flat: How Do I Breastfeed

Breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples

What Is the Problem?

Flat nipples don’t stick out much from the surrounding area (called the areola) and don’t extend when stimulated. That in some cases can make it tough for your baby to latch on and breastfeed.

Inverted nipples withdraw or pull inward when promoted. They may look flat, or their look may vary from slightly dimpled and indented to really clearly indented in the center.

Inspect your own nipples by gently squeezing the areola about one inch behind the nipple with your thumb and index finger. If the nipple ends up being dimpled or clearly indents, it’s inverted.

Can I Breastfeed With Inverted or Flat Nipples?

Most of the times, yes. Modifications in your breasts during pregnancy might make your nipples extend more than typical. On the other hand, inverted nipples can pull in a lot more when your breasts end up being engorged. (In exceptionally rare cases, deeply inverted nipples can in some cases obstruct milk circulation.) The best way to discover whether you can breastfeed is to go on and try.

Flat nipples should not pose a problem unless your baby isn’t latching on well or your breasts are overly full or engorged.

Other Solutions

Look for guidance from a lactation consultant. She may recommend that you quickly use a breast pump to draw out the nipple prior to nursing and pull back on the breast tissue while your baby is latching on to assist the nipple protrude. She may likewise suggest a technique called “reverse pressure softening.”

If your nipples are protruding less because your breast tissue is swollen with IV fluid after delivery, then your nipples will return to normal as the fluid leaves your body. In this case, you may have to pump your breast milk for a week or so until your nipples protrude enough to nurse.

Treatments For Flat Or Inverted Nipples, and Techniques To Make Latching Easier

Although opinions and experiences differ, many women have actually discovered treatments for inverted or flat nipples useful and numerous breastfeeding experts continue to advise them. Breastfeeding professionals disagree on whether pregnant women must be screened for flat or inverted nipples and whether treatments to draw out the nipple needs to be routinely suggested. For instance, the British Royal College of Midwives states that hormone modifications during pregnancy and childbirth cause numerous moms’ nipples to protrude naturally. Although dealing with flat and inverted nipples during pregnancy is disputed, if your newborn is having problem latching on to a flat or inverted nipple you may discover some or all of the following useful.

Breast shells

Worn inside your bra, breast shells may assist extract flat or inverted nipples. Breast shells remain in two pieces and are constructed out of plastic. The inner piece has a hole that fits over the nipple. The pressure on the tissue around the nipple causes the nipple itself to protrude through the hole. Breast shells may be worn during pregnancy to make the most of the natural boost of the elasticity of a female’s skin by using mild however consistent pressure to stretch the underlying adhesions (connective tissue) and draw out the nipple. After birth, they can be worn for about a half an hour prior to feedings to extract the nipple. They must not be used during the night, and the milk collected while using them need to not be conserved.

Hoffman Technique

This procedure might help loosen the adhesions at the base of the nipple, and can be used during pregnancy as well as after the birth. Place a thumb on each side of the base of the nipple– straight at the base of the nipple, not at the edge of the areola. Press in securely against your breast tissue while at the same time pulling your thumbs far from each other. This will extend the nipple and loosen up the tightness at the base of the nipple, which will make it go up and outside. Repeat this workout two times a day, working up to five times a day, moving the thumbs around the base of the nipple.

Breast Pump

After birth, a reliable breastpump can be used to extract the nipple right away before breastfeeding. This makes latching simpler for baby. A pump can also be used at other times after birth to further break the adhesions under the nipple by applying uniform pressure from the center of the nipple.

Nipple Stimulation Prior to Feedings

If the nipple can be comprehended, roll the nipple between the thumb and forefinger for a minute or more. Afterwards, rapidly touch it with a moist, cold fabric or with ice that has actually been wrapped in a cloth. This approach can help the nipple end up being erect. Prevent prolonged use of ice, as numbing the nipple and areola might prevent the let-down reflex.

Drawing Back on the Breast Tissue During Latch-on

As your hand supports the breast for latch-on with thumb on top and 4 fingers beneath and behind the areola, pull a little back on the breast tissue towards the chest wall to help the nipple protrude.

Nipple Shield

A nipple shield is a thin, flexible silicone nipple that is used over the mom’s own nipple. It has holes in the tip to allow milk to flow to the baby. If other techniques are not working, a nipple shield could assist baby latch on and nurse well by supplying the stimulation to the roof of the baby’s mouth that signals his suck reflex. Nipple guards need to only be used with the guidance of a lactation expert as they can cause issues if not used effectively.

Getting Breastfeeding Off to a Great Start

Get help with placing and latch-on

Getting competent help is crucial for a mother with inverted or flat nipples. It is necessary for the baby to discover how to open his mouth broad and bypass the nipple, permitting his gums to close even more back on the breast. Try out different positions is a great way to discover what is most comfy for the mother and helps baby lock most successfully. Some mothers discover that the football (clutch) hold or cross-cradle hold provides the most control, which also makes it easier for baby to lock on well.

Breastfeed early and often

Strategy to breastfeed as right after birth as possible, and a minimum of every 2-3 hours thereafter. This will assist you prevent engorgement, and will permit baby to practice at breastfeeding prior to the milk ends up being more plentiful or “is available in”. Lots of practice at breastfeeding while mom’s breasts are still soft frequently assists baby to continue to nurse well, even as the breasts become more firm (which can make a flat nipple harder to understand).

Achieve a deep lock

When locking your baby on, hold him in close against your body, with his ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line. Line up baby’s nose with your nipple. Pull back on your breast tissue to make it simpler for him to latch on. Tickle baby’s lips with nipple and await baby to widen (like a yawn). Then latch him on, guaranteeing that baby has actually bypassed the nipple and is far back on the areola. The resulting latch should be off-center– much deeper on the bottom (more breast taken in on the chin side than the nose side). Baby’s nose must be touching (however not buried in) the breast, and his lips should be flared out like “fish lips”.

Use soothing methods if baby becomes upset

Baby needs to not associate breastfeeding with unpleasantness. If baby becomes upset, right away take a break and calm him. Deal a finger for him to suck on, walk, swaddle, rock, or sing to him. Wait until he is calm before attempting again.

If Nipple Soreness Occurs

Discomfort as adhesions stretch

Some moms experience nipple discomfort for about the first two weeks of nursing as their flat or inverted nipple( s) are slowly extracted by baby’s suckling. If the discomfort is severe you may find relief using these treatments for sore nipples.

Moisture ending up being trapped as nipple inverts after feeding

If the nipple withdraws after feedings, that skin might remain wet, causing chapping of the skin. After feeding, pat your nipples dry and use a 100% lanolin preparation meant for nursing mothers. You might likewise want to use a Velcro Dimple Ring, which is a device developed to hold the nipple out between feedings so that the skin can dry.


Last modified: February 4, 2017

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