How Nipple Size and Shape Could Affect Nursing

Newborn breast feeding issues

Breasts come in a variety of sizes and shapes and the same applies to nipples. And this is an area of concern for mothers who want to breastfeed. What if their nipples are not well-shaped to make breastfeeding easy or doable? That means many mothers have nipples that protrude, are flat, and inverted. And the flat and inverted breast shapes are the shapes that make mothers who want to nurse nervously for understandable reasons.

How is breastfeeding possible with inverted or flat nipples? Especially since the only way breastfeeding can be successful is if the infant is able to latch on properly. And an inverted and flat nipple makes latching difficult. However, there are ways to get around this issue by utilizing techniques and tools which will be discussed below:

The Hoffman Technique

The Hoffman technique is a common nursing technique for mothers that have inverted or flat nipples during pregnancy or after birth. The way it works is by placing the thumb on either side of the areolas to push it up against the tissue of the breast firmly while pulling to sides.

This technique will help stretch the nipple out and make the adhesions at the nipple base loose. It is best to do this 2 to 5 times a day which will help the nipple protrude.

Breast Pump

A breast pump is a great tool to help protrude flat or inverted nipples and it will need to be done before putting the baby right on the breast. This way, it will make latching easier if the nipple is protruded enough. Pumping also is good for breaking up the adhesions that are under the skin which also allows the nipples to protrude.

A Nipple Shield

If women are having problems with latching their newborns onto their breasts, a nipple shield is recommended and this works well for those who have flat or inverted nipples. They are made of silicone which will not interfere with the milk supply which happened often since old rubber was used to make these shields which is a big concern in regards to using them among many mothers in this situation.

If other methods have failed to protrude flat or inverted nipples, the nipple shield is oftentimes recommended by lactation consultants and doctors. There are different types of nipple shields and the only one who can help determine which one is right for you is a lactation consultant.

A nipple shield may be highly recommended for mothers that have severely inverted or flat nipples where the Hoffman technique and breast pump will not work that well.

However, this means if you are wanting to nurse and your nipples are not ideally shaped for nursing, you can still make it happen with these techniques. That means you don't have to worry about not being able to feed your baby the way you had intended to feed him or her. Many mothers with poorly shaped nipples are able to feed their infants in a successful manner because they have used a technique that has worked for them.

“Please note: This article is only informative and should be read as such. To seek professional advise kindly contact your pediatrician or The American Academy of Pediatrics.”