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Breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples

You can successfully breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples.

Speak to your lactation consultant in the hospital before your baby is born. They can help you prepare for latching your baby.

Flat nipples

With flat nipples, there is often no need to do anything. Your baby's strong suck will help to draw out flatter nipples.

Skin-to-skin time may help your baby latch.

During engorgement your baby may find it hard to latch. Good hand expression skills will help to soften the areola before feeding. This will let your baby latch more easily.

Inverted nipples

If you have inverted nipples, you may need more help and support.

Inverted nipples may be caused by bands of connective tissue underneath the nipple. These can cause the nipple to be pulled back.

If one or both of your nipples are inverted, you may find that breastfeeding takes more time and patience at the beginning.

You may have to apply suction to draw out the nipple before putting your baby to the breast. This only needs to be done for a short time. You can continue to breastfeed successfully regardless of nipple shape with the right support.

When your milk comes in

Follow these tips to help your baby attach to the breast:

  • Massage your breasts before a feed.
  • Try hand expressing to soften the area around your nipple.
  • Try reverse pressure softening - a way to soften the areola. The areola is the circle around the nipple.
  • Apply a cold compress - this may help to improve the shape of your areola and nipple.

Unless you're working with a lactation consultant, do not use nipple shields to help your baby latch on. This can lead to further problems.

Get support

If your baby has difficulty with positioning and attachment, talk to:

Page last reviewed: 28 June 2023
Next review due: 28 June 2026