Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings?
Nipple piercing is an art and a form of self-expression that is common among men and women alike. Some of these adventurous women will later turn into mothers. If you are one of them, you might have a lot of questions and concerns.
If you have your nipples pierced, is it even safe to breastfeed? Would the piercing limit your ability to nourish your baby? How can you safely do so? What are the risks involved?
Let us tackle the answer to these questions one by one.
Safety Concerns About Nipple Piercing
If you already got your nipple pierced, you might be concerned about whether you can safely breastfeed your baby. Every woman’s health is different but the majority of women say that nipple piercing has not greatly affected their ability to breastfeed.
Although, it has some disadvantages.
Human nipples have lots of holes, and the milk flows in various pores unlike a shower head. There will always be risks involved as with other body modifications.
There are some cases when a nipple piercing can affect your milk output. Some women reported more pain on the pierced area, and hence, they are hesitant to breastfeed due to discomfort.
The artificial hole can also be more prone to infection and inflammation such as mastitis. Others have observed that their breast milk can flow more on the pierced area, causing leaks and thoroughly soaked breast pads round the clock. It can also cause uneven breast engorgement, resulting in one breast getting a size bigger than the other.
How To Breastfeed Your Baby If You Got Your Nipple Pierced
I encourage you to breastfeed despite having your nipple pierced. There are some minor adjustments that must be done, but nevertheless, it must not hamper your ability to nourish your little one. Let me share with you how to work around this concern.
1. Workaround with latching problems
A disfigured, mangled or irregularly shaped nipple can cause latching problems for a newborn. Even women who are not pierced but have a flat or inverted nipple can experience this.
What do you do then?
Prepare ahead and seek professional breastfeeding advice if you had your nipple pierced. After delivery and before you are discharged from the hospital, talk with your doctor or with a lactation adviser.
Newborns take their time on learning how to latch properly. You will need lots of assistance and encouragement during your first days of breastfeeding. You will need a helping hand to get around this problem; it can get frustrating if you work this out on your own so ask for help.
2. Remove your nipple ring before feeding
Aside from the discomfort it can give your baby while sucking on a hard object, your nipple ring can pose a choking hazard if dislodged in your baby’s throat. Removing your nipple jewelry reduces the risk of damage to your baby’s palate and tongue. It also prevents the passing of metals and bacteria from the jewelry to your little one’s mouth.
And that's not all.
Co-sleeping and night nursing can cause your child difficulties if you forget to remove your nipple rings before nighttime. To keep your nipple piercing open, you can put a flexible insertion tape or a plastic tube in it in between feedings.
If you remove your nipple ring and keep it away up to the time that your baby is weaned, your nipple hole can close. If nipple ring is really your thing, you can pierce again but wait for at least three to four months after weaning to give your nipples some time to go back to its pre-pregnancy form.
3. Choose a safe type of jewelry
If you retain your nipple ring in between feedings, choose a safer type of jewelry. Coated rings can flake out or retain some residue chemicals in your nipples. Rings made of nickel can irritate your breasts; some people are even allergic to this substance.
It is better to choose a jewelry made of nickel-free gold or something that is made of platinum or surgical-grade stainless steel. Look for a type of nipple jewelry that you can easily take out and put in, just take note to remove it before breastfeeding time.
4. Be prepared for more milk flow on the pierced holes
Most women observed that breast milk tend to flow more on the pierced area. Since the hole is bigger, it will release more milk than usual. It can also look asymmetrical. Because of this, the baby will get full faster.
The downside with too much milk released is that overfeeding can give your baby stomach cramps due to gas. He will be irritable with a bloated stomach.
Baby will also tend to spit more and even throw up milk after feeding. More flow means more leaks and soaked breast pads. Be prepared to double up your breast pad and take lots of spare with you as you’ll never know when it will flow.
5. Watch out for blocked ducts and breast infection
A baby’s strong sucking reflex can open up an old piercing hole in some cases. The continuous sucking action and baby’s saliva may lead to infection on the affected breasts.
Watch out for symptoms of mastitis (breast infection) such as fever, redness on the infected breast, pain, and inability to express milk.
Nipple tissue scarring due to previous multiple piercing on the same spot can also result in blocked milk flow. There might be a spot or two where the milk won’t trickle due to the scars.
What can you do about it?
Choose a hypo-allergenic soap or a mild cleaning solution when taking a bath. Fragrant shower gels and strong bar soaps can dry out and irritate your nipples so take caution. Let your doctor recommend a nipple soothing gel or cream as common over-the-counter pain relieving creams can contain some harmful chemicals for your baby.
6. Manage the pain
In most cases, a healed pierced nipple won’t cause pain. If you feel sore due to baby’s intense sucking, soothe your breasts with hot or cold compress.
If it had gotten too uncomfortable, pump on the affected breast. Let baby latch on the unaffected breast while the sore one is pumped regularly.
An engorged breast must be emptied on time or else, it will cease to produce milk after a few days. Cabbage wrap or cold patch can also help to ease the pain brought about by engorgement. If you are planning to take a pain medicine, seek first your doctor’s advice.
Nothing compares to breastfeeding on giving your baby the greatest start in his/her young life. Body modifications such as nipple piercing must not hinder your capacity to breastfeed. You will have some discomforts, you will work around some minor adjustments, but it must not limit your breastfeeding experience.
Nursing is challenging at first, it will take getting used to during your first days after birth. Take a watchful eye and prepare ahead. Seek expert lactation advice and support from like-minded mothers and from your significant other. Self-expression and exploring body modifications must not limit your ability from being a good parent. With your decision to breastfeed, you are already in the right direction.