Inverted nipples cause a lot of stress and anxiety for many moms-to-be. Many think that having one or both nipples inverted translate automatically to not being able to breastfeed, or having a whole lot of difficulty in doing so. This stress can definitely steer moms-to-be to opt for formula feeding, even if they really want to breastfeed. It can lead to a lot of guilt for the mom because she feels inadequate, and also a lost opportunity for baby to receive the perfect food mom can provide.
This is all a misconception. The truth of the matter is that most moms whose nipples are inverted can! Of course it just takes a different approach and a few changes on how to go about it, but it is very possible and many, many moms have done it and have become successful in it. Here are some tips we can share:
1. Try it! Babies breastfeed on the areola and nipples so breastfeeding with inverted nipples really is possible. It is important though to make sure to put baby to the breast as soon as possible, which is why rooming in is the best option. That way, both mom and baby can learn and work together towards making breastfeeding work.
2. Make a 'breast sandwich'. Some of the things to look out for when learning how to breastfeed with inverted nipples is to see how much of the breast the baby is taking into his mouth. The more that the baby takes in of the breast area; the better it is for breastfeeding. Making a ‘breast sandwich’ is also a good technique, as this elongates the areola area and helps the baby take in more of it for a better latch.
3. Find the right breastfeeding position. Try different positions and find which is best and most effective. Some moms with inverted nipples prefer the football hold since it makes latching easier and it naturally helps in preventing nipple soreness.
4. Have a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding buddy -- someone that will keep you motivated and someone who will support you even when faced with challenges such as inverted nipples. There are many breastfeeding groups that offer free support and consultations - all there really is to do is ask for the help.
5. Use breastfeeding products. Keep in mind too that there are many products in the market that are designed to help women with challenges like inverted nipples. Breast shells help by drawing out the nipple slowly over time by means of constant pressure. Nipple shields are also available though they should be used only sparingly.
6. If all else fails, pump. A good and sturdy electric breast pump can help women with inverted nipples breastfeed. Mom can either opt to pump exclusively if both breasts are inverted; or even breastfeed directly on one side and pump exclusively on the other.
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Breastfeeding with inverted nipples may be more challenging but it is possible to be successful in it. The first and most important thing to remember is to have a positive attitude towards the situation. Having positive feelings towards breastfeeding and maintaining an “I can do this!” outlook will greatly help in making breastfeeding with inverted nipples a possibility. And keep on trying. After all, the end goal is being able to provide baby with the best and most perfect food - that alone is motivation enough.