Babies BREASTfeed, not NIPPLEfeed. As long as baby can pull enough of your breast into their mouth (baby’s mouth and gums should bypass the nipple entirely and latch on to the areola), most flat or inverted nipples shouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding. Some flat or inverted nipples are more difficult for a baby to latch on to at first, but in most cases, as long as it’s not compounded by a tongue tie or uncoordinated baby, with proper positioning, along with a little patience, baby will eventually get the hang of getting a consistent deep latch. There can be different severity levels of inversion. And some may only have one nipple that inverts. A baby with a strong suck will likely have no problems pulling out a slightly inverted nipple out, although a premature baby or one with a weak suck might initial difficulty. Moderate to severe inversion means the nipple moves inward when the areola is compressed, to a level even with or underneath the areola. A nipple with moderate to severe inversion might make latching-on and breastfeeding difficult, but not impossible.
Ways to manage inverted nipples: *Position is key. See my videos in IGTV for proper positioning. *Breast Shells. Worn in your bra, the inner piece has a hole that fits over the nipple and puts pressure on the tissue around the nipple to push it through the hole. Wear for about a half an hour before feeding. *Nipple stimulation. Roll your nipple between your thumb and pointer finger for a minute or two. Putting something cold on them for a few seconds can also help you nip out. *Reverse Pressure Softening. *Breast Pump. Either hand or electric immediate before feeding to pull out your nipple. *Nipple Shield. If the other strategies don’t work, a nipple shield can help baby latch by giving sensory input into the roof of the mouth to trigger the suck reflex. Nipple shields are a great tool, but can cause a drop in milk supply or other issues in some people, so be sure to work with a lactation consultant if using.
Follow #GraceFull IBCLC, Julie Matheney // @lalactation and check out her Virtual Breastfeeding Basics Course at GraceFull.com/online-classes