Body piercing is something that many women do or consider as a form of self-expression. Some of those women are or will be nursing mothers and they many wonder whether piercing is compatible with breastfeeding.
Piercings on any part of the body should be done by professional with care and attention to cleanliness to avoid infection. Nipple piercings may take up to a year to heal with infections and rejections the most common problems. If you are contemplating getting a nipple piercing it is best to do so at least 12-18 months before getting pregnant. This allows the piercing time to heal and create a fistula (channel) before the bodily and hormonal changes that happen with pregnancy.
Anecdotal evidence finds that breastfeeding is not generally affected by established nipple piercings. Human nipples have 8-12 openings and it is unlikely that a well healed piercing will block off all the openings. Some women have noted milk flow issues or nipple pain in a previously pierced but well healed nipple
It is best to remove jewelry for each feeding to reduce the risk of the baby choking and to avoid latching issues, damage to the inside of the baby’s mouth or the passing of bacteria from the jewelry to your baby. Often women find that when they do remove their jewelry for a feeding that milk leaks from the piercing site.
Contact a La Leche League Canada Leader or a health professional if you are having any challenges with breastfeeding.
*Note: If you have a breastfeeding question, please click here