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Flat or Inverted Nipples

Techniques for flat or inverted nipples

An effective breastfeeding baby usually has little trouble breastfeeding even if his/her mother's nipples appear to be flattened. A less effective breastfeeder may need some time to figure out how he/she can draw the nipple into the mouth with latch-on. Although the benefit of using hard plastic breast shells is not conclusive, some mothers find it helps to wear them in the bra between feedings. Breast shells exert a small amount of traction to help draw the nipple outward. Using a breast pump to draw the nipple out just prior to breastfeeding may also help.

If nipples invert, or "dent" inward, with stimulation, try the interventions mentioned for flat nipples. Nipple eversion devices are available. Ask a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for information. Occasionally, one or both nipples are severely inverted. If one breast is less affected, your baby can breastfeed on the less affected breast. Most women can produce enough milk in one breast to exclusively breastfeed their babies. If you only nurse on one breast, it is a good idea 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: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 5/28/2013
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