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Flat Nipples and Breastfeeding

  1. #1
    rachrobin is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Wan Chai

    Question Flat Nipples and Breastfeeding

    I am 7 months pregnant and just learning about all the joys of breastfeeding.
    I have since realised I have flat nipples! Not inverted, they just only raise to a slight bump instead of a proper nipple.
    I asked my midwife about it and got a non commital shrug, saying I may find it difficult.
    Does anyone out there have experience with this? has anyone sucessfully breastfed with flat nipples? Do the devices you can buy actually work?

  2. #2
    xcultural mummy's Avatar
    xcultural mummy is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2008
    London/Hong Kong

    Hello Rachel,

    Flat nipples can indeed make it more difficult to breastfeed and if I were you I would make sure that you get the support information ready before you give birth.

    Not to scare you, the first days of breastfeeding are vital to your success and often people encounter obstacles and do not have the necessary knowledge to deal with it on their own.

    If nipples are flat the baby may have trouble 'finding' it in the first place, but essentially it doesn't have anything to do with milk production, a good mouthful of the breast, not nipple, is what is required for the sucking to stimulate let-down of the milk. However if the baby finds it difficult to latch on, then not being able to suck will affect your let-down - due to demand and supply - the less the demand seems to be through inadequate sucking, the less the breasts will produce.

    Often speaking to someone trained on the phone, describing your problem would help, and other times having someone check the latch and the positioning of the baby (by the time you've given birth all bodily inhibitions are likely to have gone!) in front of you would too.

    Some people choose to use nipple shields some of the time, which do not entirely help with the baby sucking as it's harder work. There are also devices to help modify the shape of flat nipples.

    I would speak to La Leche League and find out what th support system is before you give birth, so that you know who to reach out to quickly enough if anything is not going as well as you'd like. Don't go alone with breastfeeding!

    See for more details.

    Hope this helps!

    Check out my
    for information and my thoughts on real nappies, baby carriers, breastfeeding, baby-led weaning and much more!

  3. #3
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Hong Kong

    Flat nipples have the reputation of making breastfeeding harder but I'm not sure it is deserved. Remember that babies BREAST feed they don't NIPPLE feed. The most important thing is that the baby latches on and sucks well.

    I would recommend finding out as much as possible about breastfeeding before your baby arrives. Prenatal breastfeeding education and support after the birth are two very important factors contributing to a more successful experience.

    La Leche League in Hong Kong is holding a Breastfeeding Class on June 4th. Details of time and venue at and details of class contents at

    Best wishes,

    La Leche League Leader

  4. #4
    capital is offline Banned
    Join Date
    May 2004

    IF your flat nipple is the only thing the baby knows, they will quickly learn to BF as to other babies. I think introducing a bottle too early with flat nipples is wjhere you will more likely encounter problems because them the baby will get used to nuring with a think hard nipple, which is nothing like a flat nipple. LIke Sarah said babies breastfeed not nipple feed, so the important thing for baby to learn is to open big, and get a great big mounthful of breast, and you have to have patience to wait for those optimal big wide mouths, then bring in baby very quickly.

  5. #5
    kellyst is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Hong Kong

    i have inverted nipples and have found it quite difficult to feed at the breast. even if baby has a very good latch, the latch tends to slip quite easily. i've tried with two babies, and still has had difficulty. i used a nipple shield, it works for the latch but the milk transfer is not that efficient, i think it slows it down a lot.
    however, for both of mine, i tried best as possible feeding with breast for about 1.5 mths and then move to exclusive pumping. the first 1.5 mths is more for stimulation, we almost always have to feed the bottle to top them up after feeding at the breast. it's a bummer, but the good thing is that it's no indication for the amount of milk. i have plenty for them, just that they are taking it from the bottle instead of direct.

    you might have better experience with flat (but not inverted) nipples. good luck!

  6. #6
    Sleuth is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Fo Tan

    Didn't the baby pull the inversion out? Ours did.
    On the nipple shields, Matilda does not offer them, so one more thing to consider in your hospital choice.

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