Two oranges with rings pierced through them
Author: TLN

Do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding? 

Whether you had your nipples pierced long before breastfeeding was on your radar, or you’re interested in piercing them now, there are some safety considerations to be aware of when it comes to lactation and nipple jewelry. 

Is it even possible to breastfeed with nipple piercings? 

Yes, you can breastfeed if your nipples are pierced, since piercings typically don’t affect milk production. However, there are some additional considerations and risks to be aware of. 

Logistically, piercing holes in your nipple may make latching more difficult for your baby. Additionally — as you may have guessed — breast milk does come out of the piercing hole. These extra holes could lead to a faster, messier milk flow that’s more difficult for your little one to manage.

… And is it safe?

Here’s the thing: It is possible for piercings to get infected, which increases the likelihood of mastitis. In rare cases, it could cause scarring or even nerve damage that may disrupt your milk supply and flow.  

Can you get a nipple piercing while breastfeeding?

Most reputable piercers will not knowingly pierce a pregnant or lactating client’s nipples due to the risk of infection. Nipple piercings can take up to one full year to heal completely, and during that time, they’re 20% more likely to get infected. Plus, pregnancy lowers your immune system — as does sleep deprivation. This means that your body could have a tougher time fighting off infection, both prenatal and postnatal. You’re much better off waiting to get nipple jewelry until you’re completely finished with breastfeeding. You’ll be less vulnerable to infection and your piercings will heal faster. 

What if you already have a nipple piercing?

Pierced parents need to take extra precautions when nursing their babies — but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a successful feeding experience. First, always remove your jewelry before you breastfeed. Nipple jewelry is a choking hazard for your nursing baby. Suction from your baby’s mouth could dislodge your ring or stud and cause a serious problem. And even if your jewelry stays put, it could damage your baby’s mouth tissue. Your safest bet is to remove your jewelry altogether for the first several months with your child. 

Although it’s not recommended, if you do choose to reinsert your nipple jewelry after each breastfeeding session, it’s extremely important to keep everything clean. Wash your hands with soap and water before removing and reinserting your jewelry, sterilize your ring or stud, and use soap and water to wash the area around your piercing to remove dead skin cells and old discharge. If you have questions about this process, consult with your doctor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). 

The bottom line is: If you’re not pierced yet, it’s best to wait until after your baby is finished breastfeeding. But if you are pierced, don’t fret. Your IBCLC will help you navigate any unique challenges that breastfeeding with a nipple piercing may present.  

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