Inverted nipples fold inward instead of pointing out. Women with
inverted nipples may have a hard time getting started with
breast-feeding. A breast-feeding baby latches on more
easily to a nipple when it is erect.
To find out whether you have flat or inverted nipples:
Place your thumb and forefinger on the edges of the areola (dark
area around the nipple) just behind the nipple.
Squeeze the tissue
If the nipple is flat or inverted, it will flatten or
retract into the breast instead of pointing out.
Special techniques and breast shells sometimes are recommended to
prepare inverted nipples for breast-feeding. But how well they work is
questionable. Inverted nipples may naturally become more erect after the birth
of your baby. Your health professional or a lactation consultant is usually
able to help you and your baby start breast-feeding if your nipples stay
inverted. In some cases, he or she may recommend using a nipple shield.
Regardless of whether you plan to breast-feed, call your health
professional if you notice that your nipples have changed from looking erect to
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How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.