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Breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples

It is possible to successfully breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples. Read tips on how to get started and where to go for support.

Nipples come in all shapes and sizes. You can successfully breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples.

Flat nipples

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

Inverted nipples

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

Inverted nipples may be caused by:

  • bands of connective tissue connecting the nipple to the inner breast tissue
  • short milk ducts
  • less dense connective tissue beneath the nipple

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

Get help from a lactation consultant to draw out the inverted nipple before attaching your baby. Find a lactation consultant in your area on the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland's website.

You may have to apply suction to draw out the nipple before putting your baby to the breast. This can be done with a breast pump or other tool. This only needs to be done for a short time. Your nipple will eventually become more prominent after a few weeks of breastfeeding.

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 to the area around your nipple.

Do not use nipple shields to help your baby latch on as this can lead to further problems.

Get support

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

Related topics

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Breastfeeding - sore nipples

Find a breastfeeding support group near you

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2019
Next review due: 19/06/2022

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