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Breastfeeding with Flat or Inverted Nipples

What if your obstetrician tells you have flat or inverted nipples? Will you still be able to breastfeed? Yes. La Leche Leage International reminds moms, "It's called breastfeeding not nipple feeding." With some preparation and a few extra steps you'll achieve breastfeeding success. Here are a few tips from the experts at La Leche League International (LLLI).

1. Breast Shells

Breast shells are made of plastic and fit inside your bra. They are circular with a hole in the middle. The hole fits over your nipple to encourage it to protrude better. These can be worn during pregnancy or after birth for thirty minutes prior to nursing to help draw out the nipple. LLLI cautions "They should not be worn at night, and the milk collected while wearing them should not be saved."

2. Hoffman Technique

This technique can be used during pregnancy as well as after birth. LLLI explains to place a thumb on each side of the base of the nipple -- directly at the base of the nipple, not at the edge of the areola. Push in firmly against your breast tissue while at the same time pulling your thumbs away from each other. This will stretch out the nipple and loosen the tightness at the base of the nipple, which will make it move up and outward. Mother's can do this two-five times daily.

3. Nipple Stimulation

Like the Hoffman technique this manual technique helps draw out the nipple. Prior to nursing, if the nipple can be grasped, roll it between your index finger and thumb for one-to-two minutes. Then apply a cold compress of ice wrapped in a cloth. This will help the nipple to become erect and make it easier for baby to latch on.

4. Latch On Help

When Baby goes to latch on, grip your breast at the base of the areola and pull your breast back against your chest. This will encourage the nipple to protrude for easier latch on. 

5. Breast Pump

A breast pump can work nicely to draw out the nipple. Talk to your lactation consultant about what would work for you. Sometimes a manual one is best so you can control the the duration of the suction. Pumping prior to nursing gets the nipple ready and my encourage the latch if your milk has already let down.  LLLI as says that a pump can be used at other times after birth to further break the adhesions under the nipple by applying uniform pressure from the center of the nipple.

 Source: La Leche League International

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of two. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at

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