You probably didn't pay much attention to your nipples before you were pregnant, but now that you're breastfeeding (or pregnant and planning to breastfeed), you might.
Why? Because the shape of your nipples can affect your ability to nurse successfully. If your baby's nipples are flat or inverted, it may be more difficult for him or her to acquire a strong grip, making nursing more difficult. As a result, he may not latch on properly and thus receive less milk, resulting in a drop in milk production and, as a result, even less suckling.
Mothers with inverted nipples may find it more difficult to get their infant to latch onto the breast, but with preparation and understanding, most women with flat or inverted nipples will be able to breastfeed their little one with ease.
Determine if you have a flat or an inverted nipple:
You can use the "Pinch Test" to determine whether you have flat or inverted nipples. Here's how to do it:
About 1-2 inches from the base of the nipple, place your thumb and first finger on the areola.
Make a fist with your thumb and index finger.
It is considered flat if your nipple does not protrude or extend out.
It's called inverted if your nipple retracts or sinks in. Inverted nipples are quite uncommon.
The lack of movement of the nipple when stimulated or in response to cold is another symptom of flat or inverted nipples. When stimulated, your nipples should protrude (stretch out), but this should not be a problem when breastfeeding.
Here are some tips and strategies for dealing with nursing complications caused by inverted or flat nipples:
1. A deep latch will be your saviour: Your baby will be able to latch deeply onto the nipple, areola, and breast tissue underneath if he can open wide and close his mouth further back on the breast. Clamping down merely on the nipple is not only ineffective at drawing out milk, but it can also harm and hurt the nipple.
Place your thumb on top of your breast and the other four fingers of your other hand underneath it to help your baby latch. To bring out your nipple, pull back on the breast tissue (towards your chest wall). Brush your nipple across your baby's lips or cheeks to stimulate his natural eating tendencies. Hug him at the breast with your nipple aimed at the roof of his mouth once he opens his lips wide. His lips should be stretched wide when he latches on.
2. Regular nipple stimulation: Roll your nipple between your thumb and index finger for 1-2 minutes before each feeding. Apply a moist cold cloth or ice wrapped in cloth as a finishing touch. Keep in mind that icing the nipple to the point of numbness can limit your let-down reflex.
3. Pulling back breast tissue manually: Place your thumb on top of your areola and the rest of your fingers underneath it when your baby begins to latch. To aid nipple protrusion, pull the breast tissue towards the chest.
4. Place all five fingers around the base of the nipple before the baby latches for reverse pressure softening. For 1-3 minutes, push against your chest. This may aid in the protrusion of the nipple and the production of milk.
5. Certain tools might help: When these basic procedures fail, moms with flat or inverted nipples may require additional assistance. Several tools and aids have been developed to address some of these challenges, and they may be worth investigating.
Breast shells: Breast shells were created to assist correct nipples that were flat or inverted. While each brand's design is unique, the overall functionality is the same.
The majority of them are manufactured of plastic or silicone and come in two pieces for each breast. The inner component encircles your nipple and applies direct pressure to your breast tissue. The outer portion attaches to the inner piece and is usually designed to hide the nipple and keep it away from your bra.
A breast shell's pressure can assist remove a flat or inverted nipple, making it more prominent and easier to latch onto for your baby. Breast shells are also used to collect breast milk and keep it from staining or leaking.
Nipple shield: Breast shells and nipple shields are very much similar to each other, but nipple shields are designed to be worn when breastfeeding. A piece of your breast, areola, and the nipple are covered by the shield. Milk can flow through the shield through a small opening in the tip of the nipple, allowing your baby to nurse.
A nipple shield provides a protruding nipple for your baby to latch onto if your nipple is flat or inverted.
When looking for a nipple shield, find a product free of BPA and other dangerous chemicals that could leech into your breast milk as your baby nurse.
6. Taking care of painful nipples: A lactation consultant should be consulted whenever a breastfeeding parent experiences nipple pain or injury. We can determine the source of your discomfort and make specific recommendations to help you feel better soon. Breastfeeding moms with flat or inverted nipples may be at a higher risk of nipple injury since getting your nipple deep in your baby's mouth is what protects you from discomfort, and these nipples may be more difficult to get into the baby's mouth. OTC ointments, breastmilk itself and saline rinses (especially if nipples are cracked or bleeding) might help speed up healing between nursing sessions, in addition to focusing on deep latch methods.
7. Pumping: To draw out the nipple, use a breast pump for several minutes. The nipple will often protrude more as a result of the suction from a pump.
Hope for Breastfeeding
The most important thing is to recognise that each body is built uniquely to suit and work in harmony with the many systems in our bodies. Comparing ourselves to others can only lead to aggravation because we are far superior to the other person in our own manner. The urge to look like other women or celebrities may diminish confidence, but a retracted nipple should not impair a woman's confidence in any other way.
While nursing will be difficult for women with flat or inverted nipples, it is not impossible. The baby can latch on blissfully with the correct help, know-how, gadgets, and, most crucially, the mother's trust.