Each of your nipples has many small openings that lead to the milk ducts and allow breast milk to flow out of yourbreast to thebaby. The size and shape ofnipples vary, and some people have flat nipples that don't protrude from the areola. It is still possible to breastfeed if you have flat nipples.
What Are Flat Nipples?
Flat nipples are not raised. They appear to lay even with theareola and the surrounding skin of the breast. Flat nipples do not stick outward from the breast, but they don't turn inward either (those are called inverted nipples).
True Flat Nipples
Many women have nipples that appear flat most of the time, but then become erect when they are exposed to cold temperature or sexual stimulation. These are not truly flat nipples. True flat nipples do not respond to cold or arousal. However,even if you have nipples that remain flat all the time, theywill oftenstart to protrude outward during your pregnancy.
Even if you have protruding nipples. youmay experience flat nipples if yourbreasts become engorged. When yourbreasts become overfull with breast milk, they can become hard and swollen. This cancause yournipples to become flat and makeit moredifficult for yourbaby to latch on.
Tips for Breastfeeding With Flat Nipples
In general, flat nipples do not usually interfere with breastfeeding. Most newborns can latch on to flat nipples without much of a problem. And, as long as your baby can latch on to your breast properly, they will be able to draw your nipples out. You can also try these strategies if you or your baby is struggling.
Use Breast Shells
You may need to wear breast shells between feedings. Breast shells put pressure on the base of your nipple to help it stick out more. Remove the breast shells before you breastfeed your child. Unlike nipple shields, you cannot wear breast shells while you're nursing.
Experiment with using a breast pumpright before you nurse yourbaby. The suction of a breast pump can help to draw out and elongate your nipples. There is also something called a nipple averter that can help pull out flat nipples; discuss this with a lactation consultant.
Express Milk by Hand
If your nipples are flat due to breast engorgement, try to remove a little bit of breast milk before you put your baby to the breast. Hand expressing or pumping some breast milk before feeding helps to soften engorged breasts and makes it easier for your baby to latch on. However, you should only pump a little bit of breast milk.When you remove too much breast milk, your body will make more and engorgement could get worse.
Experiment With Breastfeeding Holds
Use a V-hold or a C-hold to gently squeeze your breast and present your nipple and areola to your baby. These holds compress the breast like a sandwich so the baby has something to latch on to. Learning how to hold and offer your breast to your baby can helpto encourage a good latch.
Stimulate the Nipple Beforehand
You may want to try putting a cold wash cloth or ice cube on the nipple to cause it become more erect before breastfeeding. Or, if you find that uncomfortable, you can try using your finger to make the nipple stick out a little more before latching your baby on.
Work With a Lactation Consultant
If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch on, or if you're not sure if your baby is latching on correctly, have your baby's latch evaluated by your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist. A trusted health professional with breastfeeding experience can recommend the best ways to deal with your specific circumstances.
Track Your Baby's Diapers
To be sure that your baby is breastfeeding well on your flat nipples, look for the signs that they are getting enough breast milk. Keep track of your baby's wet diapers and be sure to take your baby to all scheduled well-visits for weight checks.
A Word From Verywell
If you have any concerns about your nipples or if you are having difficulty latching your baby on to your breast seek help as soon as possible. A lactation consultant, a healthcare provider, your baby's pediatrician, or a local breastfeeding group can provide assistance.
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Mckechnie AC, Eglash A. Nipple shields: a review of the literature. Breastfeed Med. 2010;5(6):309-14. doi:10.1089/bfm.2010.0003
Chakrabarti K, Basu S. Management of flat or inverted nipples with simple rubber bands. Breastfeed Med. 2011;6(4):215-9. doi:10.1089/bfm.2010.0028
Jiang B, Hua J, Wang Y, Fu Y, Zhuang Z, Zhu L. Evaluation of the impact of breast milk expression in early postpartum period on breastfeeding duration: a prospective cohort study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015;15:268. doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0698-6
American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books, 2011.(Video) Breastfeeding: correct attachment
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By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.
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Can you successfully breastfeed with flat nipples? ›
In general, flat nipples do not usually interfere with breastfeeding. Most newborns can latch on to flat nipples without much of a problem. And, as long as your baby can latch on to your breast properly, they will be able to draw your nipples out.How do I get my baby to latch on with flat nipples? ›
- rolling your nipple between your thumb and forefinger to encourage it to stick out.
- compressing your breast just behind your areola with your fingers in a 'V' or 'C' shape to push your nipple outwards.
compressing your breast just behind your areola with your fingers in a 'V' or 'C' shape to push your nipple outwards. touching your nipple briefly with a cold compress or ice cube to make it erect. hand expressing or using a breast pump for a couple of minutes before a feed to pull your nipple out more.How do you get a deep latch when struggling? ›
To help her develop a deep latch, pull her chin down to encourage her to open her mouth. Slip your finger between her chin and your breast and gently pull her chin down. This will hopefully give you more room to insert more of your breast into her mouth.How do you get a deep latch? ›
With your baby's head tilted back and chin up, lift him or her to touch your nipple. The nipple should rest just above the baby's upper lip. Wait for your baby to open very wide, then "scoop" the breast by placing the lower jaw on first. Now tip your baby's head forward and place the upper jaw well behind your nipple.How do I get my baby to open wider for latch? ›
Tickle your baby's lips with your nipple. This will help baby open their mouth wide. Aim your nipple just above your baby's top lip. Make sure your baby's chin isn't tucked into their chest.How can I toughen my nipples for breastfeeding? ›
Air-dry your nipples or dab them gently with a towel. Women used to be told to rub their nipples to toughen them up, but this isn't advised any more – thank goodness! There's no need to clean the breast or nipples before breastfeeding.How do I train my flat nipples? ›
Use both hands on each side of breast to make a “sandwich”, to squeeze nipple and areola. Use hands to press in on breast like the way you hold a big sandwich to put in the mouth. Use a breast pump for several minutes to draw out the nipple. The suction from a pump will often cause the nipple to protrude more.What do flat nipples indicate? ›
Inverted nipples are often congenital, meaning they have been present since birth. This condition may result from milk ducts that do not fully develop or because the nipple base remained small while in the womb. Nipple inversion can occur in both males and females and often affects both sides instead of just one.What does a poor latch look like? ›
Signs of a Poor Breastfeeding Latch
Your child is sucking in their cheeks as they try to breastfeed. Your baby does not have their lips out like a fish. You can see that they have their lips tucked in and under, instead. You can hear a clicking or smacking noises as your little one tries to suck.
What is the Flipple technique? ›
Use the “flipple” technique to get as much of your breast tissue into your baby's mouth as possible. Point your nipple very high towards their nose, try to get as much of the bottom part of your areola into your baby's mouth and use your finger to flip their top lip up after they have latched on.What does a poor latch feel like? ›
As well as being frustrating and distressing for your baby, a poor breastfeeding latch can give you sore nipples. It may also mean your baby can't drain your breast effectively, leading to poor weight gain, reducing your milk supply, and putting you at increased risk of blocked milk ducts and mastitis.When does breastfeeding get easier? ›
“The first four to six weeks are the toughest, then it starts to settle down,” says Cathy. “And when you get to three months, breastfeeding gets really easy – way easier than cleaning and making up a bottle.Why does my baby push away when trying to latch? ›
Baby keeps pulling away while breastfeeding
Once the let-down starts, some breastfed babies struggle to keep up with the fast flow of milk. If they're overwhelmed, this can make them pull away. Your baby could also be suffering reflux, which can also cause symptoms such as pain, fussiness, and unsettling behavior.
If your baby did not finish the bottle, the leftover breast milk can still be used within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding. After 2 hours, leftover breast milk should be thrown away. To avoid wasting unfed milk, consider storing, thawing, and warming milk in smaller amounts.Can flat nipples be corrected without surgery? ›
Abstract. Inverted and non-protractile nipples are a common problem which cause psychological distress and interfere with a woman's ability to breast feed. A new instrument, the "Niplette", readily corrects the defect without the need for surgery. It is cheap and all patients found it comfortable and easy to use.Can flat breast produce milk? ›
The short answer is no. Although your breasts will likely grow larger before and during your breastfeeding journey, breast size is irrelevant when it comes to how much milk you produce.