Flat or Inverted Nipples

Techniques for flat or inverted nipples

A breastfeeding baby usually has little trouble breastfeeding even if his or her mother's nipples appear to be flattened. A less effective breastfeeder may need some time to figure out how he or she can draw the nipple into the mouth with latch-on. Some mothers find it helps to wear hard plastic breast shells to bring out the nipple in the bra between feedings or just before they intend to feed. The benefit of using these shell has not been well established. Don't use them before birth. Breast shells exert a small amount of traction to help draw the nipple outward. Using hand expression or a breast pump to draw the nipple out just before breastfeeding may also help. Sometimes a nipple shield can help establish latch. But use it only under the guidance of a certified lactation consultant.

If nipples invert, or "dent" inward, with stimulation, try the interventions mentioned for flat nipples. Nipple eversion devices are also available, and some women find them helpful, although they don't always help. Don't use them before birth. Ask a certified lactation consultant for information. Occasionally, one or both nipples are severely inverted. If your baby can't latch onto the inverted nipple and one breast is less affected, your baby can breastfeed on the less affected breast. Most women can make enough milk in one breast to exclusively breastfeed their babies. If you only nurse on one breast, you may want to pump the other breast so that your breasts will be about the same size. You can store the milk you pump in the freezer and use this milk for times when you are away from your baby.

News & Publications

Links opens to the home page of mass general news

Mass General News

News from the Massachusetts General Hospital

Link opens to the advances in motion homepage

Advances in Motion

Our publication keeps health care professionals up to date on the latest research and clinical advances from Mass General.

Link opens to the mass research institute blog

Research Institute Blog

News and notes from the largest hospital-based research program in the United States

Link opens to the Charged podcast homepage.

Charged

A podcast devoted to uncovering the stories of Mass General's relentless pursuit to break boundaries and provide exceptional care