3 Best Ways to Help Your Nipples While Breastfeeding
When you’re breastfeeding, there’s a lot to think about! Your Baby, their latch, and your comfort are all important. While you’re nursing, your chest might look different than you expect.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your breasts will be engorged when you first start breastfeeding. This means they’ll look more significant than usual and feel heavy. Over time, they should return to standard size.
- You might notice that one breast looks more significant than the other when breastfeeding—that’s normal! If both sides feel full, your Baby can get enough milk from either side.
- Your nipples might turn dark or even blue while breastfeeding. This is normal and nothing to worry about; it’ll disappear once your Baby stops sucking on them.
Nipples are the part of our breasts that society wants us to cover at all times. Most women have protruding nipples – the one pointing outwards. About a third of all women have a flat nipple or an inverted nipple. Let me explain the difference to you.
Nipples while Breastfeeding – Differences
- Flat nipples – As the name implies, a flat nipple does not stick out. It lies flush along the natural curve of the breast.
- Inverted Nipple – An inverted nipple is one where the nipple is sunken below the natural curve of the breast. It is indented inwards.
Flat and inverted nipples are problematic for breastfeeding because they are hard for Baby to find and latch onto. Luckily, both types of nipples can be coaxed outwards so that you can successfully breastfeed your Baby. It is best to prepare the nipples before Baby is born. Stimulating your breasts late in pregnancy may induce contractions, so speak to your doctor before you start any of the procedures below.
Flat and inverted nipples – solutions
It may be possible to pull the nipple to stretch it out. To do this, press the area around the areola and wiggle it to the left & right until the nipple points out. Grasp the nipple with your thumb and forefinger and gently tug until the nipple sticks out more prominently (Hoffman method).
Pull gently at first, then with more determination as your breasts toughen. Handling your nipples this way may seem crude, but preparing today will be less problematic tomorrow. After the birth, your breasts will be tugged & pulled, sucked & gummed ten times a day, 15 minutes per sitting. So, don’t be afraid to tug at your nipples: there’s lots more coming after Baby is born!
- Use the tools to help your inverted or shy nipples
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Help Your Nipples while Breastfeeding – Hoffman’s technique
It is a way to help with the problem of flat nipples. It involves using your fingers to pull and stretch your nipple while breastfeeding gently. This should help it become erect more easily.
To try this technique, squeeze some breast milk onto your fingertips, place them on the areola (the darker area around your nipple), and gently pull outward with your index and middle fingers. Do this several times a day until the nipple becomes more erect.
Nipples while breastfeeding – other ways
- Wear a breast shield (breast shell). The constant pressure applied to the outer edges of the areola will cause the nipples to protrude. The outer dome of a breast shield will also protect your sensitive breasts against chafing. A breast shield can be worn before and after the Baby is born.
- Use a breast pump right before you breastfeed your Baby. The suction from the pump may draw out the nipple.
- The most aggressive tool on the market for correcting flat and inverted nipples is a reasonably new invention called Niplettes (by Avent). These are thimble-shaped covers that are attached to syringe-like pumps. The caps go over your nipple, and you use the pump to apply a suction. It is worn 8 hours daily for about three months during early and mid-pregnancy. It cannot be used in the third trimester and does not work after the Baby is born (leaking milk will break the suction).
Be sure to talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before you prepare your nipples for breastfeeding.