Did you know that in victorian times nipple piercing was recommended to correct flat or inverted nipples and make breastfeeding easier?
There is no evidence to suggest that nipple piercing affects breastfeeding in a negative way. The Breastfeeding Answer Book suggests are in fact several case reports of women successfully breastfeeding after removing their nipple jewellery.
Women thinking about getting a nipple piercing should consider:
- The nipple jewellery will need to be removed for each feeding as it could pose a choking hazard or cause injury to the baby’s mouth. It is likely that if jewellery is left in place that it would be very difficult to achieve a correct latch.
- The average nipple piercing takes a minimum of 3-6 months to heal providing the proper piercing aftercare guidelines are followed. Healing can take up to 12-18months if not cared for properly.
- Sinse it is not advised to remove jewellery during the healing period, women should ideally get their piercing done at least 18 months before becomming pregnant, or wait until after they have finished breastfeeding.
- It is not recommended for women to get a nipple piercing if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant within 12 months as pregnancy can affect the body’s ability to heal properly.
Possible risks of nipple piercing that could affect breastfeeding are:
- Mastitis – scar tissue can lead to blocked milk ducts which in turn could lead to mastitis near to the nipple and areola. If the piercing wound is not fully healed this could present oppertunity for infection to gain entry to the ductal system and cause mastitis.
- Keloids – excess scar tissue can lead to further compromised ducts. Large keloids could also prevent baby from achieving a good latch and result in sore nipples and inaffective feeding.
- Rejection – This is when the jewellery begins to migrate towards the surface of the skin, this causes further scar tissue. Rejection can be minimised by ensuring the piercing is done by a professional piercer at the correct depth and by wearing the correct size and style of nipple jewellery. Jewellery should be made of a low nickel metal such as 14k gold, surgical steel, titanium or niobium (not silver or 9ct gold) or a suitable nickel free alternative such as PTFE or Bioflex.
There is very little scientific research into how nipple piercing affects breastfeeding, however information taken from research into Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery is relevant sinse scar tissue is possibly the biggest risk along with the risk of infection.
Milk may leak from the piercing holes. This may not affect breastfeeding but could be inconvenient! Extra Washable Breast Padswill probably be needed!
The mother will need to carry a suitable sterile storage container to store her jewellery in when it is removed for feeding. The jewellery must be kept clean to prevent infection.
If jewellery is removed for prolonged periods of time it may be difficult to reinsert, particularly if the piercing is less than a couple of years old.
Removing and reinserting nipple jewellery discretely may be difficult in public!