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Breastfeeding with Inverted of Flat Nipples

Updated on July 17, 2010

If you have flat or inverted nipples, it can be embarrassing but not a whole lot of attention needs to be paid to them.  However, if you need to breastfeed a child it can be a catastrophe.  You've never been more tired, the child is crying and there's so much pressure on you to keep the child well fed.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed.  Fortunately there are several techniques and products that can help you breastfeed if you have flat or inverted nipples.

The best time to use most of these methods is before your child is born.  Some of these products and techniques take time to fix the inverted nipple and there's a good chance you'll have the problem solved before the child is born.  However, if you've already given birth and need to breastfeed it's not too late.

Fixing Inverted of Flat Nipples Prior to Childbirth

You'll want to get your nipples out and extruding so that the newborn can latch on, and short of surgery you can try these methods. 

The first method is to try using plastic shells, such as the Medela Soft Shells.  These are a soft plastic shell that can be worn under your bra.  The shells have a small hole in the middle that accommodates the nipple.  The pressure of the bra pushes the shells on the breast so that the nipple protrudes through.  Wearing these throughout the day, or overnight will gradually extend the nipple and will eventually fix the problem.  These are also used to shield the nipples when lanolin is used.

The second method that works well and can fix the nipple permanently is the Avent Niplette.  This product is a non-invasive device that uses a plastic mold and syringe to maintain suction on the nipple.  It can be worn under the bra all day long without being noticeable.  The one thing to keep in mind is that it cannot be used while lactating because it will prevent the Niplette from sealing, so this product needs to be used early on.

Breastfeeding with Inverted of Flat Nipples

If you didn't discover your nipple issue until it was time to breastfeed, there's still hope.  The most used product is nipple shields.  These are plastic shields that go over the breast and provide a fake nipple for the child to latch on to.  Using these will help slowly bring out the nipple but aren't guaranteed to fix the problem.  There are a variety of sizes that depend on several factors (nipple size, breast milk production).

Finally, using a breast pump can work wonders for fixing flat and inverted nipples.  A very useful tool to begin with, the breast pump gently pulls on the nipple over and over again, and after continued use actually will fix the problem.  And chances are, it's something you're going to use anyhow, so it's a two for one deal. 


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