How do I know my Nipples are inverted?
Nipples are normally erectile—they erect when stimulated or get cold. If they do not erect when get stimulated, it is possible that you are having flat or inverted nipples. You can tell the difference among normal, flat, and inverted nipples by doing a pinch test—pinching the areola to see how the nipples manage. If after pinched the nipples do not erect, it means you have flat nipples. Otherwise, if after pinched the nipples retract inward, it means you have inverted nipples. You should also try to do stimulation test to your nipples once you know they are inverted. When the inverted nipples erect after stimulated, it is considered as a normal inverted nipples—nipples with concave shape which can erect normally after stimulation. With normal inverted nipples, you should have no problem breastfeeding.
How to Treat Inverted Nipples
Ideally, baby is not sucking the nipples when breastfed. She is sucking merely the breast. The nipple is where the breast milk come out from through baby suck on your breasts. Therefore, when you have inverted nipples, it should not be a major problem in breastfeeding. Despite this, you might still be curious whether you can do something to treat inverted nipples to make breastfeeding easier. These treatments can be done either during pregnancy or after delivery, right when breastfeeding starts.
- Nipple stimulation. This can be done either on early pregnancy or after delivery. Be sure not to do it on your third trimester as it will probably lead to premature contractions. After delivery, you can do it more often and regular since there is not anymore concern about false contractions. To do it, grasp your nipple and roll it with your thumb and index finger for several second. Do it gently so that it will not cause nipple soreness. When your nipple is stimulated and erected, touch it with cold towel or wrapped-ice for short second. Do not place ice directly as it will cause nipple numb.
- Hoffman technique. This is the treatment to loosen the adhesion that retract the nipple inward. You can do Hoffman technique while taking a bath and repeat it about four times a day. To do the technique, you need to push the base of your nipple firmly and then pull your thumb away and move it clockwise. Do it repeatedly during the day to get loosened breast tissues.
- Breast Shells. Should you have inverted nipples, you can wear a breast shell inside your bra. You can wear it from the third trimester of pregnancy. When wore for few hours a day, it will prevent the nipple from protruding.
How to Breastfeed with Inverted Nipples
After doing best for your inverted nipples, others tips on how to breastfeed your baby with this kind of nipples might be useful.
- Try to latch baby on properly. When breastfeed, baby should suck your breast instead of merely the nipples. When baby latch on properly, you do not have to worry about your inverted nipples.
- Breastfeed every 2-3 hours. Breastfeeding frequently will loosen up the breast muscles, so that it can reduce the adhesion between muscle and your nipple. Your baby sucks will stimulate the nipple and prevent it from retracting.
- Pumping when you are not feeding. Similar to feeding, pumping will give your nipple stimulation. Hence, when you are not breastfeeding your baby, pumping may provide the stimulation your nipples need to break the tight breast muscles. It also can be done if both of your nipples are deeply inverted.
- Put warm towel onto your nipple after breastfeeding. Nipple soreness is more likely to happen to inverted ones. It is really help to put warm towel onto it to relieve the soreness.
- Feed your baby with which breast easier for baby to latch on—if both nipples are inverted. If only one nipple is inverted, you should put the balance between the nipples to feed the baby, in order to give the inverted one sufficient stimulations.
When having more difficulties breastfeeding with inverted nipples, you might want to contact either lactation expert or your midwives.