Nipples come in all shapes and sizes. You can successfully breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples.
With flat nipples, there is no need to do anything. Your baby's strong suck will help to draw out flatter 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.
If your baby has difficulty with positioning and attachment, talk to:
- your midwife
- your public health nurse
- a breastfeeding support group volunteer