It is a matter of concern for many new mothers that why are my nipples flat and soft and if I will be able to feed my newborn. But they must know that the size and the shape of the nipples do not obstruct the feeding process, though we cannot deny that for some women it may be a little problematic. But the good news is that there are ways and tips to manage this situation. Here we summarize some ways on how to feed with flat and inverted nipples successfully.
If your nipples do not protrude even after placing your thumb and the ring finger around the nipple and pressing it, you may have a flat nipple. And if the nipple goes rather inside, it is called an inverted nipple.
As we said, with flat and inverted nipples, the latching to the breasts might be difficult for the baby, but with the tips mentioned below, the mothers will be able to feed their child and enjoy their motherhood.
You need to use the breast pump only for a couple of pumping to allow the nipple to come out and lengthen. By doing this, the nipple will come out properly and the baby will latch on to the breasts easily.
One of the ways of breastfeeding for the mothers who have flat and inverted nipples is to use breast shells. Made in two pieces, the breast shells are available in many materials and shapes. The plastic ones are most common. The breast shell has a hole where you can insert your nipple. It will allow the flat or inverted nipple to come out. The breast shells create pressure around the nipples allowing it to protrude through a hole. Wear the breast shell 15 to 20 minutes before the feedings so that the nipples can be drawn out. Avoid wearing breast shell in the night. Discard the milk collected in the breast shells.
The breast shell is also used by expecting mothers to prepare them in advance. However, this gadget has faced several criticisms and many women feel that it is not as effective. It is recommended that you must try it yourself to find if the same is working for you or not. If you find the breast shells comfortable, you can continue this option.
The heavily filled breasts make the nipples even more flat and inverted. So, make sure to give frequent feeds to the baby so that the milk does not get collected and the breasts do not become engorged.
How to feed with flat and inverted nipples: put your baby in a comfortable feeding position
Make sure that your feeding position is correct and the baby is comfortable in your arms. A struggling baby will never latch to the breasts and will keep his mouth away. You can also identify his and your favorite position after an experience of feeding. Then most of the times you can stick to the same feeding position and stay away from trying something new.
After being in a comfortable position, the baby should be able to open a wide mouth and your nipples should be able to get inserted in his mouth. If you still have a problem with breastfeeding position, consult the breastfeeding specialist. Talking to specialist will open up more doors for how to feed with flat and inverted nipples.
A nipple shield is a gadget that provides a covering to the nipples with a hole in the front from where the milk can be sucked by the baby. As per the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, nipple shield has been one of the effective ways to feed the baby successfully especially with flat nipples. It is quite popular and is a great help under different scenarios including the flat and inverted nipples. It will allow the flat and inverted nipples to extend and come out. It has other different uses like seamless milk transfer, aids breastfeeding, good for sore and cracked nipples, prevents nipple bites by the baby, etc.
You can use a nipple shield to give the baby a better latch on. You can later remove it after the baby starts the sucking of the milk or you can put it on till the end of the breastfeeding. You will find nipple shields of different variety like latex nipple shield, silicone shield, etc.
Also read: Breast Engorgement – Causes and Solutions
Before feeding the baby, try to stimulate the nipples by gently rubbing it. Try to roll it between your fingers for a couple of minutes. You can also try using cold soft cloth or ice-pad. It can make your nipples erect. Though, don’t use the ice-pad or cold cloth for a longer time, as it may lead to numbing of the nipple.
Without using any device, try to elongate the nipples manually by pressing your fingers and thumb around areola and nipples so that they extend out. As you hold your breasts, try to pull the breast tissue back toward the breast wall and see if the nipples protrude. Only after a few repeated efforts of failure, start using the mentioned devices. Pump some breast milk into the mouth of the baby, so that he also makes an effort like you do, which will help in successful feeding.
Also read: How To Use A Breast Pump – A Helpful Guide
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