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  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Inverted Nipples

    I really have a hard time breastfeeding my babies due to my inverted nipples. Even my baby suffered too. No one , not even my OB had given me some tips as to what to do to maybe correct this. Having a daughter that might have inverted nipples too... what are some tips you can give that might help a woman with inverted nipples do so she would be able to breastfeed her baby later without so much difficulty? Or is there some medical help to correct this?
    I really am for breastfeeding babies.

  2. #2
    Hi,

    I'm sorry to hear you are have had difficulties breastfeeding. Can I firstly suggest that you get in touch with a lactation consultant as I can personally testify that these professionals provide invaluable support when breastfeeding. They can watch you feeding and give you one-to-one advice.

    I (according to my midwives) had 'flat nipples' but (after lots of help!) I managed to successfully breastfeed my son. You can check whether you have flat or totally inverted nipples by using this method: push the areola (darker skin on your breast) about an inch down (behind the nipple). The nipple is known as flat if it does not stick out at all. If the nipple goes backwards into the skin's tissue then it is truly inverted.

    There are some techniques you can use to 'draw out' your nipples (whether they are flat or inverted). Again, I would like to say that a lactation consultant can help you with these.

    -Breastfeeding itself actually helps to draw out the nipple. Women who have flat or inverted nipples before they start breastfeeding often find that after regular breastfeeding their nipples stick out.

    -Using a breastpump also has this affect on flat or inverted nipples.

    -You can purchase 'breast shells' (to wear starting in the late stages of pregnancy) and wear them at around 30 minutes before a baby needs feeding. These put pressure on the areola to help the nipple to protrude.

    -You can also use nipple massaging techniques to loosen the bonds in the areola and again help the nipple to protrude.

    With breastfeeding, it is very important that the baby latches on correctly. The baby should not just be latched onto the end of the nipple (your breasts would soon become very sore if this happened). The baby really does need a full mouthful of breast which can be more difficult to establish with flat or inverted nipples. However, many women have been able to successfully breastfeed with these types of nipples: it can just take some extra support and techniques.

    This article on flat or inverted nipples is particularly useful as it shows some diagrams and photos of some of the techniques I have described above.

    I hope this is all helpful for you. Please post back and let us know what you think so we can support each other to breastfeed successfully.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2012
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    Hi,
    Thank you for the reply. My kids are now almost adult, a 19 girl and a 15 boy. What some older folks did to me during those lactating time was to let my husband suck my nipples more which was very painful and irritating due to a very distended breast. The swelling of my breast reaches almost my neck. I was advised to use a breast pump and put the milk on the feeding bottle and have it consumed by my baby. We put the extracted milk on the fridge. At least it made me feel I did breastfeed my babies.
    Inverted nipples runs in the family. Almost the six of us (we are all girls) have this kind of nipples. But some of my sister has really reared their kids thru breast feeding.

  4. #4
    I had inverted nipples before I had my first child. My midwife noticed it and suggested that I wear breast shells for the last few weeks of pregnancy to see if it would help the nipples to start to stand out. I did this a few times, but I didn't realize the severity of the inverted nipples and the problems it would cause.

    So when baby was born, she could not latch on... and when my milk came in I ended up being engorged (very hard breasts) which made it even more difficult for baby to latch on. Thankfully my mother-in-law noticed this and immediately set up an appointment for me to visit a lactation consultant the next morning.

    So I took my baby to the lactation consultant's house (she was also a friend of the family) and we stayed there for 6 hours... massaging the breast, expressing milk by hand, pulling the nipple out and helping baby to latch.

    For me it was 3 excruciating months of breastfeeding... cracked, bleeding nipples and mastitis (which I always resolved naturally by using different positions, getting more rest, etc.). Baby simply wasn't latching well, which was most likely due to my inverted nipples. It's hard for a baby to latch, draw the nipple out, keep the nipple out and swallow, when the nipple is inverted.

    There were many times when I just wanted to stop, but my lactation consultant gave me some wise advise. She said, "You can stop, but just make sure that you won't regret it later, if you do." Well, the fact that my breasts would become engorged if I tried to stop helped me make my decision to continue trying, but I did learn some things...

    1. Use a hospital grade breast pump to pull the nipple out until you have a let down, then pop baby on so she doesn't have to work to pull the nipple out... and the milk will be right there for her. Worked well for me.

    2. If nipple is bleeding, take baby off the breast and nurse express by hand as much as possible to give the nipple a break. I did this for 24 hours and it worked wonders.

    3. (And this is something I've learned since then...) Be sure baby is properly positioned on the breast (as ljmarsden suggested) and try to breastfeed on just one side, using compressions, for as long as baby wants to eat. This gives the other breast a "break". At the next feed, offer the other breast and feed only on that side. I found that once baby is on (the initial latch is the most painful) that the pain subsides some, so I think this would be very helpful - feeding on only one side at each feed.

    When baby #2 came along, I no longer had inverted nipples, and 5 children later, my nipples have never gone back.

    I believe that at least one of my daughters may have flat or inverted nipples, so I will need to educate and empower my girls so that they have the best breastfeeding experience possible... even with flat or inverted nipples.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

  5. #5
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    This is fantastic information. Thanks for the posts. There is a product called a Niplette that is designed to be used to help draw out the nipple for breastfeeding for women with flat or inverted nipples. I would say that using a lactation consultant if there is problems breastfeeding before purchasing any devices.
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