Can I Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings?

woman with tattoos holding baby

Nipple piercings have gained in popularity in recent years, and lots of pregnant mums are full of questions on whether or not they can successfully breastfeed with their nipple piercings. 

If you have had either one or both of your nipples pierced and are now expecting, there are some things to consider about safety and logistics.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering a nipple piercing, or already have one and are looking to learn more about the safety of breastfeeding.

Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings

Technically speaking, you can breastfeed with nipple piercings still in, but this could make latching much harder for your baby. There isn’t loads of research on breastfeeding with nipple piercings, but the consensus is that it's generally safe provided the piercing is removed, but it has the potential to make things a bit more difficult.

If not given adequate time to heal up before starting your breastfeeding journey, these extra holes could lead to a messier, faster milk flow than your baby can manage.

Can you Get a Nipple Piercing While Pregnant?

While it can be safe to breastfeed with existing nipple piercings, it's not recommended to get a new nipple piercing while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Piercings take anywhere up to 12 months to fully heal, and it’s thought that around 1 in 5 get infected at some point during this first year.

Plus, when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding, your body's working overtime growing your little one and providing them with the nutrients they need to thrive! This can leave less energy to care for yourself, and fight off infections and illness, making you at a higher risk of infection during this time.

When breastfeeding your little one, you also have to think about the fact that all of the germs from their mouth go straight onto your nipples! So, your little one picks up a toy off the floor (trust us, it will happen!), puts it in their mouth, and then goes to feed. All of the germs from the floor have passed from the toy, to your baby’s mouth, and are now on your nipple piercing. This increases the risk of infection.

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Things to Consider When Breastfeeding With a Nipple Piercing

Scar Tissue

One of the main concerns regarding nipple piercings and breastfeeding is the formation of scar tissue. The act of piercing the nipple can create scar tissue around the pierced area, which in some instances can result in blockages in the milk ducts. This scar tissue can hinder the flow of milk, making breastfeeding more difficult and potentially leading to engorgement, mastitis, or inadequate milk supply.

Latching Difficulties

Latching is a fundamental aspect of successful breastfeeding, and something that mums often struggle with. Nipple piercings can alter the shape and texture of the nipple, making it more challenging for your little one to latch.

Potential For Pain and Discomfort

As mentioned above, it’s important to ensure any nipple piercings are fully healed before attempting to breastfeed to prevent the risk of infections or other complications. But, even when your piercing is considered fully healed, and has been in for over 12 months, some people still experience sensitivity or discomfort in the area.

This can occur when infection did happen during the healing process, or the piercing didn’t quite heal as it should. If you have any long-term sensitivity around your piercing area, it could potentially lead to some discomfort when breastfeeding your little one.

How to Safely Breastfeed With a Nipple Piercing

  1. Speak to Your Midwife or a Breastfeeding Expert- Before attempting to breastfeed with a nipple piercing, try to seek guidance from a breastfeeding specialist or midwife. They can provide personalised advice and recommendations based on your unique situation and piercing type. These experts are trained to address specific concerns related to breastfeeding and can guide you through the process to ensure both you and your baby have a successful and comfortable experience.
  2. Remove the Piercing Before Feeding- To prevent any potential complications, it is best to remove the nipple piercing before breastfeeding. This will eliminate the risk of the piercing getting caught in the baby's mouth or causing any damage to the delicate tissue. Removing the jewellery will also allow for unrestricted milk flow, ensuring your little one receives enough breast milk during each feeding session.
  3. Wash Hands and Piercing Area- Before and after removing the nipple piercing, it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Additionally, gently clean the piercing and the surrounding area with saline solution or mild soap and water. This helps reduce the risk of infection and keeps the area clean for your baby during breastfeeding.
  4. Address Any Discomfort- While many women find breastfeeding to be a comfortable and natural experience, those with nipple piercings might encounter some initial discomfort. If you experience any pain or sensitivity, don't hesitate to ask for assistance from your midwife or a breastfeeding expert. They can offer valuable tips on alternative latch techniques and positions to minimise discomfort and prevent complications.

For more information, check out our guide to getting started with breastfeeding.

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