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Inverted Nipples & Breastfeeding

The Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Breastfeeding > Inverted Nipples & Breastfeeding


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What to do about inverted nipples before birth?

May 2009

My daughter is expecting and is concerned about being successful at nursing with inverted nipples. I would appreciate any advice as well as anything she might do throughout her pregnancy to reverse the situation. Thanks in advance


When my daughter was born, I tried to nurse her for nearly three days without luck before I finally got the help I needed from a lactation consultant at CPMC. As it turned out, I had inverted nipples, but I didn't know it, and the well- intentioned nurses didn't pick it up either. But once the lactation consultant came in (just as I was about to give up on nursing!), she immediately pulled out a nipple shield, and it worked beautifully. My tiny girl started nursing immediately, and we never looked back.

There are a few different sizes, and the consultant tried three before we found the right fit. After leaving the hospital, I found replacements at BabiesRUs. I always tried to keep at least two on hand because my daughter would not nurse without them. I tried on occasion to wean her off, but she never did. I managed to nurse her exclusively for six months all the while using a nipple shield. No problems ever. So - just make sure she asks for a nipple shield right away if she has problems getting started with nursing, and it should do the trick. Grateful for the nipple shield


I had inverted nipples, and it was a bit harder getting started, but with some work it's totally doable. Sign up with a lactation consultant ahead of time, or a midwife with great lactation skills (that's what we had). And plan to see that person at least a few times in the first two weeks after the baby is born. That's when you set your milk supply for the rest of breastfeeding, so it's important to get a good start. My nipples are no longer at all inverted, all that sucking pulled them out. Also, there's great advice boards on the La Leche League website. anon
I had 1 flat nipple before giving birth to my first child a couple years back. The lactation consultant at ABMC recommended a nipple shield on that side to provide a better latching point, which I only used for maybe 2-3 weeks total. In addition, she recommended pumping to continue pulling the nipple out. I don't know if there's anything that helps during pregnancy. It did initially feel like it made nursing more difficult because there was less for my baby to latch on to, but after he could pull more of the areola into his mouth it was OK--the problem was the initial pinching as he tried to get his grip. But after nursing him for a year, both nipples are much larger and it wasn't a problem at all with my 2nd child, so the continued stimulation of constant breastfeeding definitely immproved things quickly. Hopefully the same will happen to your daughter. Good luck!
I would not be concerned. I have one inverted nipple and I was worried too. I asked my doctor about it and he said it would be fine. He was right. The breast with the inverted nipple was just as easy to nurse with as the other one -and my son nursed that side just the same as he did the other! maren Van Duyn
moderator: this is a changed email I would not be concerned. I have one inverted nipple and I was worried too. I asked my doctor about it and he said it would be fine- he was right. The breast with the inverted nipple was just as easy to nurse as the other one -and my son nursed that side as easily as he did the other! anon
Both my nipples were inverted when I had my first daughter. It made latching on more difficult and I remember calling in a lactation consultant, but we persevered. Eventually one nipple ''popped'' out and became my daughters' exclusive nursing nipple. The one breast produced plenty of milk, but what I should have done was pumped A LOT on the other breast, to keep it producing and to perhaps get the other nipple to come out eventually. But I was tired & gave up, and for the duration of 2 kids and 3+ years of nursing, I was very very lopsided, nursing only off one breast. Oh well. Now I am a case study that shows long term nursing does cause a little more wear and tear on the breast -- the milking breast is slightly less perky than the one they wouldn't nurse on, even 7 years later. But I'm not complaining, nor are my daughters. Good luck, and do consider a lactation consultant. sarah
First of all, Congratulations!

I was in the same boat. Even though I could not make it work for my kids, I read many materials and talked to several consultant. A good start place is the La Leche League (LLLI.org). You can search for qualified consultants in your area and the service is totally free. They provide phone consultant and home visit.

There are several things your daughter can do during her pregnancy (if it is not in late preganancy). I heard there is a thing called ''nipplett'' from Avent, which can be wore during pregnancy and that will help pull the nipples out. You can check it out at http://www.motheringfromtheheart.com/nipletteinfo.htm. I wish I knew it before I had my babies.

She can also try breastshell for flat/inverted nipples, also from Avent. BabiesRUs has that.

There are a lot of website discussing about this topic, but might be overwhelming, esp. for 1st time moms. Please let her know, even if she cannot nurse her baby, it is NOT the end of the world, at all. As long as she has milk, she can always pump it out and her baby will still be fed with mommy's milk. I did that for both of my kids, of course had hard time to accept that when that was for my first born. The good thing to pump it out is that other people can help feed the baby and mommy can have more time to rest. The most important thing is to have a healthy baby, it comes secondary in terms how the baby is fed, breastfed, bottle fed with breast milk, or bottle fed with formula.

Enjoy the journey in the (grand)parenthood!


I had an inverted nipple and wore ''soft shells'' over my nipple for months before delivering, which helped a bit pull the nipple out. My baby had a little trouble breastfeeding at first at that nipple and found the Medela breast shields really invaluable the first weeks in helping baby latch. http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/breastfeeding-devices/337/16mm-nipple-shield anon
Hi there- There is hope for your daughter! Be sure that she meets with a (free) lactation consultant at the hospital soon after giving birth. They can help her with nursing, and also recommend a nipple shield if needed for her inverted nipples.

Often, the nipples will actually ''right'' themselves after giving birth because sometimes your body just knows what it has to do. If not, a nipple shield can be used to help give the baby something to latch on to, as well as draw the nipple out. Pumping also helps with this - sometimes you can start by pumping a little bit to draw the nipple out so that the baby has something to latch on to.

Most importantly, let her know not to give up! Nursing is NOT EASY at first... and especially takes dedication when dealing with a challenge (on top of the usual challenge of getting the whole nursing thing down in the first place!) Good luck.. she can do it, especially since she has your support :) seacue


About a week into nursing, my inverted nipple was no longer inverted. As long as the little one can latch (even an imperfect latch!), it will all be fine. La Leche League is a great resource if there are troubles, but it's nothing to worry about! Former-Invert
There is a product out called ''Niplette'' I believe that can help with inverted nipples. It provides a small amount of suction to help slowly stretch the tissue that is holding the nipples inverted. If she can, she should see a lactation consultant, and ask about it ASAP as I understand it takes a couple of months of wearing it intermittently to work. Also wearing breast shells may help some. Good luck and congrats on the new baby! a pediatrician
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