You can breastfeed with inverted nipples

Feb 18, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Inverted nipples may be alarming to you if you’re planning to nurse your baby, but it can absolutely be done, as these moms share with us.

Baby breastfeeding |

Nursing a baby isn’t always easy — and if you have inverted nipples, it can seem like a questionable possibility. Fortunately, you can breastfeed your baby if your nipples retract instead of popping out when stimulated — just like these moms.

From the trenches

Hearing helpful, yet generic, information about inverted nipples is awesome — but hearing stories from real moms who have been through it is even better.

Jessica, mom of two, told us that she always had nearly inverted nipples prior to having her kids. “When I went into the NICU to nurse my first for the first time, the nurse looked at my nipples and actually said, 'You're going to nurse with those?’ I was devastated and so scared. They ended up convincing me to use a nipple shield so he could latch, which actually worked for a while. It indeed pulled out my nipples and allowed him to nurse, but it was such a pain in the butt. It was all I knew, and I was determined to nurse, so I kept going. Around 1 month I had had enough and although I had tried before I just took off the shield and he latched. I will never forget when DH walked in the room and saw the shield on the table and the baby nursing. We continued 2-1/2 years with those nipples!”

Niki, mom of one, also used a nipple shield, but for a longer period of time. “I had to use a nipple shield on one breast to get a good latch, but after about 6 months I didn't need it anymore! I was so happy. It's a great tool for those who need it, but it's a pain to keep track of. I usually kept mine stuffed in my cleavage.”

A tale from both sides

Shelly from Connecticut learned valuable lessons from her first nursing experience that really helped her when she had her second daughter. When she had her first baby, she put her to the breast immediately and thought everything was fine. However, when she got home, her little girl would try to latch, but instead of nursing, she’d get angry, release and cry. She broke down and gave her a bottle of formula, and was never able to sort through her nipple inversion — and subsequently carried some guilt for not being able to nurse her first baby.

However, she was able to use this experience when her second baby was born. “Doing research, I found that having inverted nipples was likely the biggest issue,” she explained. “So in my last month of pregnancy with my second I started wearing breast shells to help draw out my nipples. When I went into labor I wore them as well. When she was born I put her right to my breast and she was able to latch on like a champ. I could tell immediately that it was different than with my first, I could actually feel her drawing out the colostrum. It was also painful, and continued to be painful for the first few months as she broke down the tissue that pulled my nipples in, but once that was done breastfeeding was so easy. I ended up breastfeeding her for 19 months.”

Educate yourself

If you have inverted nipples and plan to nurse your baby, see what you can do to prepare yourself before your baby is born. Consult with a breastfeeding professional or your obstetrician to see what you can do prior to beginning your own nursing adventure. It can be done, so keep a positive outlook.

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