Mother Breastfeeding infant

Are my Nipples Normal for Breastfeeding?

I would say most women have no idea that nipples come in different shapes and sizes. I grew up where you always cover up even in gym class. You would pull on your sports bra over your regular bra and pull out your bra so nobody knew what each other looked like. We always felt like there was one girl whose breast came in early and she wanted everyone to know. I was even on the swim team and we would shower with our swimsuits on after practice. However, other teams would just walk right in to show butt naked. It was always a shock and your Mama taught you never to stare so you just left the shower instead of turning beet red.

Instead of being embarrassed to ask, let’s chat about the different types of nipples:

Are you new here? I also have the following posts to help you with other breastfeeding information!

To Clip or Not to Clip? That is the questions.
Are Tongue Ties real?
Are Lip Ties real?

Inverted Nipple

This is when your nipple is basically inside out. However, with some women, you can use your fingers to bring out the nipple. But in some women, their muscles are too tight to bring out the nipple. For some babies, they have no issues with latching onto inverted nipples and get plenty of milk. However, some babies find it hard to latch onto inverted nipples and need a little help to get enough milk to gain weight.

Look into using a Nipple shield, I recommend the Haaka Two-Pack Inverted Nipple Corrector which will help pull out your nipples before nursing.

Try different positions but the best holds are the football hold or the cradle hold

If you are having difficulty, try changing nursing holds such as the C-hold to help your baby latch. The C-hold: Place the breast in the palm of your hand, put your thumb on the top of your breast while your other fingers around the bottom of your breast. When you look at your hand it looks like a C shape cupping your breast. Make sure your thumb and fingers are behind the areola (dark circular area around the nipple) so you are not in the way of your baby’s mouth. You should feel like you are holding a sandwich, which can make it easier for your baby to latch.

Try pumping for a few minutes before breastfeeding your baby to pull your nipples out and put a little milk on your nipples.

Finally, work with a lactation consultant like me.  I will give you the best advice for your situation. 

Sometimes, I work with Mamas to do weighted feed. I will first weigh you baby naked to get the best weight. Mama will then feed her baby on both breasts to see how many ounces the baby is getting during a feed. Then I will weigh the baby again to see how many ounces your baby gained.

Large Nipples

Large nipples are not a bad thing; you just have to make sure your baby is getting a good latch by taking the entire nipple and part of the surrounding areola into their mouth. Again if your baby is only taking the nipple then this will lead to sore, chapped and painful breastfeeding experience. Since women are not comparing nipple size you might not even know your nipples are big until your nurse says something at the hospital. The only reason this could be an issue is for all the preemie in the NICU.  Since these little ones have a small mouth may need a little extra help.

You can try a nipple shield and you can refer to my last post (add link) on all the different kinds of nipple shield and which would be best for you. These nipple shields help a baby that is having latching issues and creates a better suction. You can always wean from a nipple shield and go straight back to breast when the baby gets a little older.

Football hold is the best position for a baby with a Mama with large nipples. It gives Mama a better view of her nipples and your baby’s mouth as your baby latches.

Flat Nipples

Your nipples do not need to protrude to feed your baby and make sure he/she gets enough milk. They just need a deep enough latch onto your breast to get enough milk to come out. However, if your breasts are engorged or overfull, swollen or hard from so much milk, your baby will have a more difficult time.

If you are having difficulty try changing nursing holds such as the C-hold to help your baby latch. 

You can buy breast shells that will help your nipples stick out a little more.

Hand express a little milk onto your nipples which will help with engorgement and soften your breast to make latching easier for your baby.

Finally, try Reverse Pressure Softening where you lay back in a chair or on a large pillow in bed. Take your finger tips and press steadily on your areola right where it meets your nipple. Press inward toward your chest wall for a full minute or longer but it should not be painful or hurt. This should make your nipple stick out so your baby can latch easier.

Lipstick Nipple

No woman’s nipples should ever look like your tube of lipstick in your clutch. If your nipple comes out of your baby’s mouth, flattened, or slanted like a new tube of lipstick, then you know your baby has a shallow latch or not deep enough. You might not feel pain but I bet you do and your baby is not getting enough milk. In the long run, your milk supply will dip lower and lower and so will your baby’s weight. Next, your doctor will next say, you need to use formulas you are not making enough milk. However, more than likely the answer is you just need a deeper latch.

Think your child may have a tongue-tie? Grab my freebie Do You Have Pain When Breastfeeding Your Baby? Where I share signs and symptoms of both Mama and Baby where your baby might have a tongue-tie.

Bumpy Nipples

Almost all women have bumps on their areolas that are called Montgomery glands. Some women pop them and get out dead skin cells;  However, I would not recommend playing with them.

Hairy

Some women grow a few to a lot of hair and some women never grow any hair on their areolas.  This will not hinder you breastfeeding but you might want to pluck them but you do not have too.

Supernumerary

You might have a 3rd nipple which can look like a mole or a raised bump. You cannot breastfeed with this nipple but you might have known the name for this 3rd nipple.  It always makes me think of Chandler from friends who has a third nipple and says well it is totally useless. However, aren’t all of his nipples totally useless?!?

Protruding

Protruding nipples are very pointed and raised a couple of millimeters above the areola’s surface. These are the easiest nipples for a baby to find.  However, new mamas sometimes just put the nipple in their mouth. This will cause pain due to the shallow latch, even though it seems the baby has a deep latch since your nipple has disappeared.

Puffy

The whole area looks like a small mound on top of the breast. Personally, mine looked a little more puffy after pumping for 20 minutes.

Pierced Nipples

It is completely safe to nurse your baby if you have had pierced nipples. However, it is not recommended to keep the small jewelry on your nipple while breastfeeding. Even if it seems securely fastened, the jewelry could still come loose and your baby could choke or injure themselves on the jewelry. The piercing will not affect your breast milk supply or your ability to make breast milk when your nipples are pierced.

You might notice that you see breast milk leaking through the pierced hole but that is not an issue. You might see more leakage due to the larger hole and will want to wear nursing pads to soak up the leaks.

Final Thoughts…

All nipples come in different sizes, some are pointy and rounded, while others are flat or turned inward and yet others protrude. However, just because your Mama has inverted nipples does not mean you will also have inverted nipples. I bet you never asked your mother about her nipples and her breastfeeding journey. You should give her a call and see if she has any good advice.  But, maybe on second though, that’s just TMI! 

My best advice is to get a proper latch on your breast by taking the whole nipple and some of the areola in your baby’s mouth. Then your baby will be more likely to get enough breast milk to grow and get strong.

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