If you are thinking of getting your nipples pierced or already have pierced nipples, you may be wondering if you can breastfeed.
Breastfeeding with a nipple piercing is usually safe and effective. Infections, blocked ducts, and rejections are problems that may occur from piercings. Planning and care can help prevent them.
Once you start breastfeeding, your baby’s saliva will transfer bacteria to your nipple. So, if you are thinking of getting a nipple piercing, plan to do it 12 to 18 months before getting pregnant. Nipple piercings may take up to a year to heal. During that time, your nipple will become more resistant to infection. Your body will also create a tunnel or channel inside the nipple (called a fistula) to help the nipple heal. It is best to give your nipple time to heal before the hormonal and other physical changes of pregnancy take place.
With any piercings, it is important to choose a professional you trust and a facility that is clean and careful. This will help you avoid infection. Keeping your breasts dry and washing your hands before touching the nipple will also help.
Many piercings don’t interfere with breastfeeding. Human nipples have 8-12 openings and it is unlikely that a well healed piercing will block off all the openings. However, some nipple piercings cause scar tissue. This can lead to blocked milk ducts that reduce the flow of milk and may lead to low milk supply.
It is important to remove jewellery for each feeding. Jewellery is a choking hazard and makes it harder for your baby to latch on. It may also hurt the inside of your baby’s mouth or pass bacteria to the baby. You may choose to remove jewellery before each feeding or for the whole time you breastfeed. Milk often leaks from the piercing site when you remove the jewellery. But that’s okay.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding contact your local La Leche League Canada Leader for information and support.
Mohrbacher, Nancy. (2020). Breastfeeding Answers: A Guide for Helping Families, Second Edition. Nancy Mohrbacher Solutions, Inc.