Although most women have protruding nipples; others, on the other hand, have what are known as inverted nipples. Women who have them are usually able to breastfeed their babies without any problem, although others need extra help.
From the firm Medea, specialists in breast pumps and other products related to lactation, Sioned Hilton, lactation consultant, neonatal nurse and health assistant has expressed to women: “Don’t be afraid if you have flat or inverted nipples…Often it is perfectly It is possible to breastfeed like this…Remember that your baby must latch on to a good part of the breast, not just the nipple to feed effectively.”
Although, nevertheless, in the first days, the baby’s mouth is very small and its sucking ability is not as efficient as expected. At these times, inverted or flat nipples make it difficult to start breastfeeding, especially if the baby is sick or premature.
Sioned has explained that “if you have a flat or inverted nipple, it may not reach the baby’s palate to stimulate it and trigger a sucking reflex…This can cause them to have trouble latching on or not be able to stay latched on for effective milk transfer. ”.
How to tell if you have inverted or flat nipples
The first thing to keep in mind is that flat nipples are those that do not protrude much from the areola, even when stimulated. That is to say, the inverted nipples sink in their central part and, sometimes, they retract until they are flush with the areola or they can even sink into the breast tissue.
This situation may affect one or both. Estimates indicate that they affect 10% of new mothers, who have at least one inverted nipple.
How can you help your baby?
If you have inverted nipples and want to help your baby while breastfeeding, you can put some of the tips below into practice:
- Compress the chest, with your fingers in a C or V shape, below the areola. This will make the nipple come out.
- Pass, briefly, an ice cube or cold compress, to make the nipple erect.
- Extract the milk manually (or with an extractor), for a few minutes, before feeding, something that will favor the nipple removal.
- Rotate your nipple with your index finger or thumb to make it come out.
If none of this works, you can use a nipple shield when feeding your baby. If you don’t know what it is, it is a thin and flexible piece made of silicone. It has the shape of a nipple and holes at the tip, which is where the milk comes out.