How inverted or flat nipples can affect breastfeeding.

By Jessica Hartshorn
October 03, 2005

Do you suspect that you have inverted or flat nipples? Here are four things you should know:

1. Your ob-gyn can diagnose nipple irregularities. In fact, she'll probably look at your nipples during a routine pregnancy visit in your third trimester. But may be able to diagnose yourself as well: If you squeeze your breasts and your nipples retract toward the breast instead of pointing out, they're inverted. Flat nipples don't point out or in, they stay very flat.

2. You can still breastfeed. While latch-on is tougher if you have either of these irregularities, and inverted nipples can sometimes impede milk flow, it's still not hard to breastfeed successfully if you get some help early on.

3. Breast shells can be the answer. Talk to your doctor before you use one, and don't use one during pregnancy -- studies show that they often backfire with pregnant women. After the birth, however, wearing one of these plastic shells between feedings can draw out your nipple.

4. Baby's sucking is the surefire cure. Keep breastfeeding, with the initial consultation of a doula or lactation consultant, and within a few weeks the strength of baby's own feeding should draw out your nipple. For extra help, work a few pumping sessions into your week too. Problem solved!

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; La Leche League

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

American Baby


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