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Tips for Breastfeeding with Inverted Nipples

You may have heard that inverted nipples make it difficult to breastfeed, but that isn’t necessarily true. Although breastfeeding with inverted nipples can present unique challenges for both mom and baby, it rarely makes breastfeeding impossible. With the right techniques and support from the right specialists, you can breastfeed to your heart’s desire and ensure your baby gets what they need from you. 

Inverted nipples happen when one or both of your nipples point inward or lie flat against your breast instead of protruding outward. Inverted nipples are usually caused by small bands of tissue that pull the nipple closer to the breast tissue and can also be caused by short milk ducts. They are usually something you are born with but can be a result of scarring after breast or nipple surgery or certain infections. 

Tips for Breastfeeding with Inverted Nipples:

Draw Out Your Nipple

Drawing out your nipple can make it easier for your baby to latch on. This can be done with exercises or appliances.

The most popular exercise is the Hoffman Technique. To do this exercise, place your thumbs on opposite sides of your nipple, close to the base. Press down firmly, against your breast, and spread your thumbs away from each other. Repeat in different positions around the entire base of the nipple at least five times, once a day. If you experience pain or your nipple does not protrude, it may be tethered to the underlying tissue. Stop doing the exercises and speak to your doctor about other treatment options.

Stimulating inverted nipples using your fingers can also help draw them out. You should be able to gently pull out an inverted nipple unless it’s tethered to underlying tissue. As long as milk can come out of your nipples, you can still breastfeed. 

There are several appliances that can be used to draw out nipples. Most are recommended to be used during the early months of pregnancy, but they can also be helpful once your baby is born.

  1. Breast shells are dome-shaped silicone devices that apply a gentle vacuum to your nipples, protect them from chafing, and collect milk so it doesn’t leak onto your clothes. They should only be worn for 30 minutes at a time and must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly to prevent infection. The collected milk should be discarded and NOT fed to your baby. 

  2. The Nipplette® is a two-part device that uses suction to draw out the nipple. The dome piece is placed over the nipple and a syringe is used to suck the air out to create a vacuum. If you are breastfeeding, this device should only be used for a few minutes at a time immediately before breastfeeding. 

  3. Silicone nipple correctors (there are several brands) are also dome shaped. They fit directly over the nipple to draw it out with suction created by inverting the dome before attaching it to your nipple. They should be used for a few minutes at a time.

  4. Breast pumps, preferably hand pumps, can be used for a few seconds before breastfeeding to draw out the nipple.

Consider Pumping or Hand-Expressing

Full or engorged breasts are firmer and rounder, making it harder for your baby to latch on. You can try hand-expressing or pumping to remove milk and make them softer. Add an Epsom salt soak to help with engorged breasts.

Experiment with Breastfeeding Positions

There are many different nursing holds, and you may find that some work better for your breast/nipple size and your baby’s age. Try positions like the cradle hold, football hold, side-lying hold, or cross-cradle hold to find the one that works best for you.

Try Nipple Shields

Nipple shields are soft silicone covers with holes in the center. If used correctly, they can pull out your nipple and give your baby something easier to latch on to. Keep in mind that there are some drawbacks to using nipple shield, so make sure to choose the right size and seek guidance on proper usage from a lactation consultant or your doctor.

Help Your Baby Get a Deep Latch

Make sure your baby can gape widely and get a deep latch. This will ensure efficient milk transfer and pain-free breastfeeding. If your baby can gape normally and widely, they should be able to latch on to your breast even with inverted nipples. If they can’t, they may struggle whether you have inverted nipples or not.

Monitor Feeding Duration

Keep track of your baby's feeding duration and frequency to make sure they are getting enough milk and not struggling with any feeding issues. On average, from newborn to three months, your baby should nurse for an average of 10-15 minutes on each breast every 2-3 hours.

Maintain Breast Health

It’s important to make sure inverted nipples stay clean and dry. After nursing, use warm compresses to cleanse your nipples and let them air dry before putting your nursing bra back on or covering them up. This can help prevent infections and pain.

Seek Professional Help

Don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor, healthcare provider, or lactation consultant for personalized guidance and support if you are still struggling to breastfeed with inverted nipples.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to breastfeed if I have inverted nipples?

Yes, you can breastfeed with inverted nipples, but it may require some techniques and support to help your baby latch effectively. If your baby is able to gape normally and widely, they should be able to latch on, even with inverted nipples.

How do you handle inverted nipples when breastfeeding?

Inverted nipples can be addressed during breastfeeding by trying nipple stimulation, doing exercises, and using appliances, like breast shells or suction cups. You can also seek the help of a lactation consultant. If your nipples are stuck to the underlying tissue, speak to your doctor. 

Can inverted nipples cause low milk supply?

Inverted nipples themselves do not cause low milk supply, but they can sometimes make it more challenging for babies to latch properly. As long as you make sure you empty your breasts quickly and completely and allow ample time for them to fill up, your milk production should not be affected.

When should I worry about inverted nipples?

If you experience pain, difficulty in breastfeeding, or notice a decrease in your baby's weight gain, it's important to seek professional guidance from your healthcare provider.


Breastfeeding with inverted nipples may seem daunting, but with the right approach and support, it’s absolutely achievable. By following the tips above, you can enjoy your breastfeeding experience, foster a strong bond with your baby, and overcome most challenges that can happen along the way.

Reviewed by Linda Dahl, MD


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