How to breastfeed with flat nipples
Breast and nipples come in different sizes and shapes; some are pointy, some nipples protrude, some are inverted, and some are flat. And in some instances, the nipples might fall in between these characteristics. You might be wondering what the science is between these different shapes and sizes. In this article, you will get a better understanding of flat nipples breastfeeding latch, tips that can help in proper latching, offering you a better breastfeeding experience.
The breast is composed of fat, milk ducts, and connective tissue beneath your nipples. Depending on the current dimensions of milk ducts you have, the density of these connective tissues, and the amount of fat you might have in your breast will play a significant role in how your nipples are; this is either inverted flat.
And the most exciting thing is, during your pregnancy, your nipples might change, you could have flat nipples, and in the course of the nine months, your nipples would push out, by the first week your baby is born.
Most women with flat nipples worry about how their breastfeeding experience will be. But if you are patient with yourself and give it some time, it is possible to breastfeed with flat nipples. As we know, breastfeeding offers various benefits for you and your baby, and at the same time, affects your body in several ways.
10 Tips to help you easily breastfeed with flat nipples
1. Do a self-test
When you stimulate your nipples, they tend to stiffen and protrude, and this is a perfect test to see if your nipples are inverted or flat. If your nipples harden when stimulated, then there are high chances your baby will be able to do so when breastfeeding. So this is how you can do the quick check.
Start with having your forefinger and thumb on the edges of your areola. The areola is the dark area that is around your nipple. When at this position, squeeze gently, repeat this self-test on the other breast. If your nipples are inverted or flat, you will notice them retracting or flattening into your breast instead of protruding and stiffening.
2. Make use of a breast pump.
A breast pump can go a long way in helping draw out an inverted or flat nipple, especially for the deeply inverted nipples. As you search for the perfect breast pump, you will notice different types in the market, from electric to manual pumps. Additionally, you might be lucky enough and get a breast pump through your insurance; for this, call your health provider for more information on it.
3. Get some suction devices
You are not limited to using your breast pump for inverted or flat nipples, there are suction devices you can use, and each of them come in different names; nipple retractors or extractors. These are worn under your clothes; it will gently pull your nipple out into a small cup. And with continual use, it tends to loosen up your breast tissues that cause your nipples to flatten.
4. Do some hand expressing.
If you are struggling to breastfeed your little one, try and express the milk with your hands. Engorged breasts are not something any new mommy wants to leave with. When you hand express some of this milk, it helps soften your breast, making it much easier for your little one to latch on. But when it is too full, you will both struggle to get it right.
- So, how do you go about it?
With one hand, cup your breasts, then with the other hand, make a ‘C’ shape near the areola with your forefinger and thumb. Once in this position, you need to squeeze gently to release the buildup of milk, try and incorporate a rhythm with your movement without having your fingers sliding over your skin. You should see a few drops of liquid, then milk. Try and express just enough to make your breasts nice and soft; this should make latching much easier.
5. The pullback motion
When you pull back in your breast tissue, this could help with inverted or flat nipples. Your nipple might not protrude entirely, but this will help your baby latch on. To try this, pull back motion, hold the breast tissue that is just behind the areola, then gently pull back towards your chest; this gives your baby something to latch on properly.
6. You can use some breast shells and nipple shields.
These nipple shields have been designed to be flexible to fit perfectly over your areola. When starting with the breastfeeding journey, you can start with this shield to encourage proper latching. But you need to know, the use of these shields has been controversial over the years. Some believe that the shield might reduce the amount transferred to your baby, and might not empty your breasts, and some worry that continual use of the shield might be addictive for your child, leading them to prefer the shield to your nipple. Additionally, if the shield is not positioned correctly on your nipple, it might cause some injuries. Before getting a nipple shield, consider speaking to a lactation consultant to advise you better.
7. It’s all in the breast hold.
Another useful tip for flat nipples is using a ‘C’ or ‘V’ hold; at this position, squeeze your breasts gently and try to present your nipple and areola to your baby’s mouth. You will notice you have compressed your breast slightly to help your baby get something to latch on when in this hold. To encourage a good latch from your baby, you need to hold your breast for her properly.
- For the ‘C’ Hold
Try and create a C shape with one hand, then place it around your breast; for a comfortable hold, ensure your thumb is at the top of your breast while the fingers support your breast from the bottom. Your fingers and thumb need to be behind the areola, and once in position, gently squeeze and have your breast looking like a sandwich.
- For the ‘V’ Hold
This hold will use your middle and forefinger; this should create a scissors hold near your areola. Try this, have your thumb and forefinger at the top of your breast while the other fingers at the bottom for a comfortable hold. At this position, press gently to help your baby latch.
8. Look out for signs
The most important thing you need to do is lookout for the signs that your baby is feeding enough. It is by keeping track of the wet diapers and taking her for all her well-baby checks; this is where you can easily track her weight.
9. May be surgical options.
The natural method is the best place to start, but if these don’t seem to work, you should probably consider surgical options. There are two ways this can be done; the first option is to preserve your milk ducts so that you can breastfeed your baby easily, while the second one does not, thus, making it hard to breastfeed after surgery. You should take some time and discuss with your doctor the best option for you.
10. Talking to an expert helps.
If breastfeeding is not as you had imagined, maybe too painful and not as smooth as you thought, probably talking to an expert would help. A lactation consultant would understand your current problem and advice on the best actions to take, to ensure you are properly caring for your baby.
As you have seen, it is possible to breastfeed if you have flat nipples. Just try and find what works for you and your baby for a flat nipple breastfeeding latch, and the most important thing is to be patient with yourself; you will both get the hang of it.