Thanks to celebrities, who hint they have had it done, the nipple and body piercing trend has recently made a huge comeback.
Similarly to tattoos and other body-altering procedures, nipple and body piercing can be a way for people to express themselves and give a sense of who they are.
Right now, more women than men are having these body modifications and they often choose to have both nipples pierced.
If you’ve had your nipple(s) pierced, you could be concerned it might affect your ability to breastfeed. Or you might be thinking of getting your nipple pierced and wondering whether it’s a good idea.
In this article, we will explore the question ‘Can you breastfeed after nipple piercing’ to help you decide whether it’s something you’d like to consider now, or perhaps hold out until after breastfeeding your baby.
Can you breastfeed after nipple piercing? 3 things to know
Nipple piercing is typically done at the base of the nipple. It can be done at any angle but is typically done horizontally. Some people choose to have multiple piercings – one on top of the other.
The question is, can you breastfeed after nipple piercing? The simple answer is, yes, you can; however, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Here are 3 things you need to know about nipple piercing and breastfeeding.
#1: Nipple piercing might affect supply
Only a small amount of research has been done about how nipple piercing might affect breastfeeding and the milk ducts.
Researchers think the piercing might affect breastfeeding and the way the baby is able to remove milk from the breast.
Milk production works on supply and demand, so if the removal of milk is less effective, there’s less supply.
#2: Pierced nipples might interfere with breastfeeding
Lactation consultants observed in some cases, when a mother kept her nipple jewelry on during breastfeeding, there was poor attachment. This meant the baby repeatedly came on and off the breast – slurping and gagging etc.
These problems ceased once the mother removed the nipple piercings for breastfeeding.
Other breastfeeding mothers with pierced nipples, however, were able to breastfeed successfully without any problems.
#3: Your nipple piercing might fall into your baby’s mouth
If a mother keeps her nipple jewelry on for breastfeeding, it might come off as the baby sucks, with a risk of it getting stuck in his throat and causing him to choke.
It’s also possible for a baby’s mouth (e.g. gums, tongue, palate) to be injured by the nipple jewelry.
If you have a nipple piercing, it’s probably best to remove the jewelry while breastfeeding, for the reasons explained above.
If you’re thinking of getting a nipple piercing, it might be better to wait until after your breastfeeding days are over.
Does milk come out of the holes created by nipple piercings?
Yes, breastmilk can come out of the holes made by nipple piercings. The holes can also be blocked by scar tissue if the site of the piercing heals over.
The holes caused by pierced nipples and nipple jewelry might also cause damage to the ducts inside the nipple itself and prevent breastmilk from being able to flow out at all.
This might help you decide whether getting nipple piercings is a good idea during pregnancy or when you’re expecting to breastfeed a baby.
Is it safe to get nipple piercings during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
Getting any type of nipple piercing during pregnancy could be safe, but could also come with risks. Apart from the act of breastfeeding itself, there are other things to consider, such as infection, nerve damage, and pain.
If you choose to go ahead and get a nipple piercing while you are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure it’s done by professional piercers who have high standards of cleanliness and who follow universal precautions.
Many piercing specialists won’t undertake piercings on a pregnant or breastfeeding mother as it can take up to 12 months for the pierced nipples to heal completely.
What are the risks and precautions to be taken if you go down the path of a piercing?
If you choose to breastfeed with nipple piercings you might want to consider removing the jewelry before your baby attaches, as it’s a choking hazard.
Nipple jewelry can possibly cause trauma to the nipple if the piercing rips or tears while breastfeeding.
Another thing to consider is your nipple would be at higher risk of infection, due to the milk ducts being more open for bacteria to get in.
Even if you removed the nipple piercings regularly, your hands might not be completely clean and could introduce harmful bacteria, causing local and systemic infections.
What problems can nipple piercing cause when breastfeeding?
Nipple piercing could affect breastfeeding negatively and have a detrimental effect on milk production.
Your baby might not like the faster milk flow from the pierced side if the ducts have been affected. Or milk might flow too slowly and baby might be more fussy.
This could mean your baby doesn’t feed well on that side, and you might have abnormal milk production and not make enough to meet your baby’s requirements.
Lactation consultants have had many experiences with breastfeeding women who have nipple piercings. Some have successful breastfeeding journeys whereas others have experienced difficulties.
If you’re a breastfeeding woman with a nipple piercing and you can relate to any of this, speak to your lactation consultant, who will assess what’s going on and set up a plan to support you.
If giving your baby breast milk is important to you and you are having trouble, you can consider asking your lactation consultant or local health department to help you find a human milk banking association or donor human milk bank.
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