If You Have a Nipple Piercing Can You Still Breastfeed?
I’ve got a confession.:I love nipple piercings. I don’t have any myself, but I’ve often contemplated getting them done. If you were to ask me, I think they perfectly accentuate a wonderful and often overlooked body part. I’ve always wondered one thing though: do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding? Does the jewelry could somehow block the baby’s ability to suckle, or if you should just remove them entirely while doing so? I mean—hello, choking hazard! For some reason or other, I never thought to look into it, though. That is, until now. And the answer is actually a lot more complicated than I had ever imagined.
So do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding?
The Australian Breastfeeding Association notes that there is limited research on the subject, but that its believed it may lower milk supply due to the fact that the piercing itself might hinder a baby’s ability to drink properly, thus reducing supply due to a perceived lack of demand.
According to popular breastfeeding site Kelly Mom, nipple pierces aren’t likely to block all 8 to 12 nipple pores from which a baby drinks. That said, there are a few reported cases of possible duct obstruction, so it’s not to say it’s impossible. They also state that when feeding with the jewelry removed, milk might flow faster than usual, which could be problematic if it’s too fast for the newborn.
Additionally, they recommend making sure a nipple piercing has had a year to a year and a half to heal before even getting pregnant. This has to do with the amount of time nipple piercings take to heal. Saliva can’t enter into the still-healing piercing or it could get infected. Jewelry also has to stay in place during the healing period, which might be complicated with a baby constantly suckling on it. KellyMom also adds that its best to breastfeed your baby without jewelry in as that reduces the choking and aspirating hazard. They also raise the point that jewelry has the potential to damage the inside of the baby’s mouth, pass bacteria to your child, or cause latch problems.
If you haven’t done it yet, you could just wait till after you’re done breastfeeding to get pierced.
KellyMom suggests at least three months post-weaning. They also mention that you could let one breast dry up and only leave one piercing in, though I’d imagine that might feel a bit strange.
So there you have it! Piercings are generally safe and compatible, but there might be a few issues to watch out for and be proactive about. If you have any more pregnancy and postpartum questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
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(Image: iStock / Wavebreakmedia)