When it comes to nipple piercings, one of the biggest concerns amongst women is do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding?
If you are considering breastfeeding your future baby, this is a question you need to know the answer to. It may be one of the main deciding factors in whether to get your nipples pierced or not.
There are plenty of rumours flying around about how nipple piercings affect breastfeeding but not many hard facts.
Well, I have done the honours of researching and asking around to gather all the information I can on the subject of nipple piercings and breastfeeding.
Here’s what I found:
Effects on milk flow
Generally speaking, having pierced nipples will not have any negative impact on the milk flow from your breast.
In fact some mothers claimed that pierced nipples made it easier for their baby to suckle as the milk could flow through the fistulas (piercing holes) as well as the milk duct orifices. This doesn’t mean that their breasts were producing more milk than usual, it just flows more easily.
Women who had problems with their nipple piercing during the healing process which resulted in a certain degree of scarring claimed the opposite – their milk flow was slowed.
Many of these women had removed their nipple jewelry but even after the hole closed and healed, their infant still had trouble suckling due to scar tissue.
The moral of the story is to look after your nipple piercing to prevent infection and scarring.
Will the jewelry get in the way?
If the baby is used to breastfeeding on a non-pierced nipple it might be off-putting at first but they can adapt to it with time.
The other problem is the discomfort it may cause for you if the baby tugs at it whilst nursing.
To prevent these problems you need to wear jewelry which fits right. You do not want it to be too tight or too long.
You could also try wearing a softer material nipple bar. Perhaps think about wearing BioPlast, BioFlex, PTFE or dental acrylic. This would be much more comfortable for the infant. You can buy these on the Nipple Jewelry page on my site.
There is some useful information on breastfeeding with nipple piercings on Painful Pleasures.
If the baby still refuses to latch onto the pierced nipple, you may need to try removing the jewelry.
You have three options:
Remove your nipple jewelry
Be warned, if you leave your jewelry out for too long the hole will close up and you will no longer be able to wear it.
Many women who do this decide to get their nipple repierced after the breastfeeding period is over and done with.
You must make sure that after you get repierced you will not be doing any more breastfeeding. It is unsanitary to breastfeed with a nipple piercing which is not healed yet.
Use a pump
Consider buying yourself a breast-pump so that you can make the most of your body’s supply of milk. This will allow you to store your milk in ready prepared bottles which you can store for freshness at the the next feed.
This option allows you to keep your nipple piercing but still ensures the baby gets all the nourishing goodness of your natural milk.
The main downside is that you won’t have the same bonding experience as you would if the baby was actually latching onto your nipple.
Remove the jewelry just for feeds
For those of you who want a happy medium – breastfeed and keep your piercing!
It is a common practice for women to remove their nipple jewelry when they feed their baby then put it back in afterwards.
If you have trouble getting your baby to suckle on your breast with the jewelry in, this may just be the solution!
If you decide to do this too, you must be hygienic about it. Wash your hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before touching your piercing.
After removing the jewelry you should cleanse the whole nipple area with saline solution then rinse thoroughly.
Once you’re done nursing, you should cleanse your nipple area again. You should also cleanse your jewelry before your put it back in.
Nipple piercings and pregnancy
Throughout pregnancy the breasts expand meaning that you will need to replace your nipple jewelry to a longer bar every few weeks.
You can either purchase and insert the new jewelry each time by yourself or you can go to your piercer who can do this for you.
You should change your jewelry whenever your current nipple bar is starting to feel like it is squeezing your nipple.
A word of warning – you should not get your nipples pierced whilst you are pregnant, particularly if you intend to breastfeed.
You should also take the healing time frame for a nipple piercing into consideration. Nipple piercing take 3 to 6 months to heal but many professionals do not recommend removing jewelry for the first 10 months after getting the piercing.
So, do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding?
Well, generally speaking – no, not really.
There will be no real negative effects on you or the baby.
Yes, there may be a few problems getting your baby to suckle from a pierced nipple, but there are ways round this so it is not a major concern.
As always, look after the piercing and you reduce the risk of any extra problems such as scarring hindering milk flow. This will not be an issue if you follow your aftercare instructions after you get your piercing and take all the steps to heal your piercing properly.
I hope you found this article useful. Have you got any personal experiences with breastfeeding with nipple piercings? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below!
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