Nipple piercings have become more popular over recent years, and an increasing number of women are asking, "What are the effects of nipple piercings on breastfeeding?"
I had both my nipples pierced at the age of 19. I am now 32 and a mother of 2 and have another bun in the oven. ;-) Both my boys nursed for over 20 months each and self-weaned. I decided to keep my piercings. It took some extra work and patience. I took my piercings out each time they fed and made sure that I washed them a few times during the day. I still have my piercings, and I plan on doing the same with this next child.
Cindy, Palm Beach, Florida
Do Nipple Piercings Affect Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding after nipple piercing and scar tissue...
Do nipple piercings close? A pierced nipple may leave scar tissue, which could hinder milk flow and, therefore, milk production. This is only because milk production will drop if less milk is removed from the breast. On the other hand, milk might flow quicker from a pierced nipple due to the extra holes. In other words, they may close or not; it all depends on the individual.
If a breast is damaged due to nipple scarring, there is no reason why the mother cannot continue to breastfeed her baby exclusively from the other breast.
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Should I Remove My Nipple Jewelry?
It is recommended that a mother remove any nipple piercing jewelry before their baby breastfeeds. The jewelry may pose a choking risk or interfere with latching.
Keep a close eye on your baby to ensure that they remove enough milk from the breasts. Learn more about how to tell if your baby is drinking enough breast milk.
Does Milk Come Out of Piercing Holes?
Yes, some mothers do. It all depends on the individual, but you may be squirting in all directions.
Nipple Piercing and Breastfeeding “I had no real breastfeeding issues, my pierced side leaks A LOT! It's a nuisance. I have to use breast pads all the time. So, invest in some good breast pads!" Maya, Cape Town, South Africa
Breastfeeding After Nipple Piercing
Why you should NOT leave your nipple jewelry on while breastfeeding
- Your baby may struggle with a poor latch.
- The baby may struggle to stay on the breast.
- The baby may have a lot of milk messing from the sides of the mouth while feeding.
- Baby might gag while breastfeeding.
- The jewelry may come loose and choke the baby.
- While breastfeeding, the jewelry may injure the baby’s gums, tongue, or palate.
- The increased risk of infection.
According to La Leche League…
‘Mita Saldana, a professional body piercer with the Chicago-based studio, Body Basics, says she's pierced many nipples and has never had a complaint about breastfeeding problems. Many of Saldana's clients are also friends. This affords her a unique vantage point from which to observe these women from the moment of a piercing, through the healing process, to life with a pierced nipple. One of Saldana's clients, a piercer herself, had her nipples pierced and went on to breastfeed. "She had no problems," said Saldana. Most nipples are pierced horizontally, though some clients prefer a vertical piercing. Horizontal piercing seems better suited for breastfeeding, according to Elisabeth Speller, an Australian lactation consultant.’
Could I Pierce My Nipples While Breastfeeding?
It is strongly recommended to abstain from piercing the nipple while in a breastfeeding relationship. The average healing time for this type of piercing is 3 - 6 months or longer. A safe time would have been at least a year before becoming pregnant. Attempting to pierce your nipples during lactation could lead to serious issues such as mastitis and breast abscess.
Women considering having their nipples pierced should research the best hygiene practices to prevent infection. An infection could cause internal damage, affecting any future breastfeeding relationship. Be sure to find practitioners who have undergone classes in the prevention of cross-contamination and immunization requirements. Rejection of the piercing may also occur, which may cause scar tissue and damage to the nipple. Allergies towards certain types of metals may also occur. Titanium, nickel-free Gold, Platinum, Niobium, or surgical Stainless steel is the safest metal for body piercing jewelry.
Other pages of interest
- What about other breast surgery?
Learn more about the effects of breast surgery on breastfeeding.
- What about different nipple shapes and breastfeeding?
Learn more about nipple variations and breastfeeding.