Nipple Variations and Breastfeeding


When you're breastfeeding, there's a few things that can cause some hiccups along the way. 

Did you know that the size and shape of your nipples may play a role in the way your baby is able to breastfeed effectively? Even if nipple shape is different for every mother, there's a few tips and tricks that can make breastfeeding easier for you and and your baby. 

An improper latch can result in nipple pain and a fussy, frustrated baby.

The first step is identifying what your nipple shape is, and the cues your baby is giving at feeding time. 

Flat Nipples

If your nipples lay flat or flush to your breast when not stimulated, you might be in this category. Flat nipples can be a challenge while breastfeeding, as they keep your baby from being able to latch properly. If this sounds like you, try stimulating the nipple area before latching your baby to give them a helping hand. Your breast pump may also help draw out the nipple more before breastfeeding. Many mothers with flatter nipples find that the football or cross-cradle hold gives them more control and allows the baby to latch properly. Experiment with different feeding positions that allows the baby to latch as far as possible.  

Inverted Nipples

Having inverted nipples can be even more of a challenge than flat nipples because they are typically unable to be stimulated to protrude. When breasts become engorged, inverted nipples may even more difficult to stimulate. Your lactation consultant may recommend pumping several days to a week before breastfeeding to encourage nipples to protrude enough for your baby to latch properly. While nursing you might find it to be more helpful to pull back on the breast tissue to expose more nipple to the baby. Your postpartum doula can help you create a breastfeeding plan that makes feeding time more comfortable with nipple inversion.

Large Nipples

Properly latching for the first few times can be challenging if the mother has large nipples. The problem here is the baby is unable to get the entire nipple in their mouth properly, disrupting milk flow and causing them to slip off the breast. This can be remedied with different positions and some assistance as they latch. Also it may be helpful to avoid any additional stimulation of the nipple right before latching as you would for inverted or flat nipples. When your baby goes to feed, help manipulate the breast tissue to align them properly with the nipple and try holding them at different angles that can keep you both comfortable. In this case, practice makes perfect and your baby will develop their own techniques. 

Even with a few challenges, breastfeeding can be an incredible and rewarding experience. 

Having some additional support can give you the confidence you need to reach your breastfeeding goals and overcome obstacles along the way.


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Depending on who you ask, breastfeeding it the most natural, exhausting, beautiful, gross, impossible, essential, painful, perfect experience of motherhood. Some take to it like a duck to water, others struggle for a year to get the perfect latch, others know from the start that it’s not their choice for feeding their babies, some pump exclusively for months before being able to feed from the breast.

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