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Flat or Inverted Nipples

Techniques for flat or inverted nipples

A breastfeeding baby usually has little trouble breastfeeding even if his or her mother's nipples appear to be flattened. A less effective breastfeeder may need some time to figure out how he or she can draw the nipple into the mouth with latch-on. Some mothers find it helps to wear them hard plastic breast shells to bring out the nipple in the bra between feedings or just before they intend to feed. The benefit of using these shell has not been well established. Breast shells exert a small amount of traction to help draw the nipple outward. Using hand expression or a breast pump to draw the nipple out just before breastfeeding may also help.

If nipples invert, or "dent" inward, with stimulation, try the interventions mentioned for flat nipples. Nipple eversion devices are also available, and some women find them helpful, although they are not always effective. Ask a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for information. Occasionally, one or both nipples are severely inverted. If your baby cannot latch onto the inverted nipple and one breast is less affected, your baby can breastfeed on the less affected breast. Most women can make enough milk in one breast to exclusively breastfeed their babies. If you only nurse on one breast, you may want to pump the other breast so that your breasts will be approximately the same size. You can store the milk you pump in the freezer and use this milk for times when you are away from your baby.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: Rosen-Carole, Casey, MD, MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2016
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