I have pierced nipples. Can I nurse my baby?
I have nipple rings. Getting my nipples pierced was expensive and extremely painful. I€™m five months pregnant, and there is no way I’m getting rid of them just to breastfeed. I want to find out how to avoid infection and if you know of any special jewelry that is easy to take on or off; or rings that I can just leave in. My mom keeps on telling me just to take them out, but I’m really set against it and I am determined to breastfeed.
I’m glad that you are planning to nurse your baby. You already know how good breastmilk is for babies, but what may surprise you is how much you will enjoy the special closeness that you feel when your baby is snuggled up to your breast. You’ll enjoy nursing your new baby, and be glad that you chose to give him the very best start in life.
There is no evidence that pierced nipples will affect your ability to breastfeed. Your breasts will still produce adequate milk for your baby, and unless your body rejected the piercing right after you had it done, there is no reason to anticipate any additional problems with infection. Horizontal piercings are more common than vertical, and seem to be more compatible with nursing.
You will need to remove the jewelry when you nurse. Leaving it can cause problems. It will be difficult for your baby to form the nipple and press it against the roof of his mouth if there is a piece of metal in the way. Latching on correctly at the breast is a skill that newborn babies have to learn, and it can take awhile for them to get the hang of it even with an un-pierced nipple. While it may be possible for him to latch onto a nipple with jewelry in it, it will make it more difficult for him, and may cause pain as the ring presses against the soft tissue of his tongue and palate. Healthy babies are born with a very strong suck, and it’s entirely possible that the ring could dislodge while he’s nursing and he might choke on it.
It would be best for you to remove the rings completely for the first few weeks of nursing. Newborn babies nurse a lot (10-12 times or more in 24 hours) and it would be a hassle to keep taking them in and out that often.
Once your milk supply is established and your baby isn’t nursing as often, you can replace the rings between feedings if you want to. I can’t guarantee that the holes won’t grow back together in that time, but if you replace the jewelry once a day and then take it out, that should help keep the holes open.
It can take about three to six months after piercing for the hole to heal completely. It is recommended that you not remove the rings for six to ten months after you have them pierced, and you may need help removing them for the first time, so contact a piercer for advice on the best way to do it. Pierced nipples may be more sensitive than unpierced nipples, so you may experience a little more soreness than most nursing mothers.
As far as different types of jewelry goes, it is best to use titanium, nickel-free gold, platinum, niobium or surgical stainless steel jewelry because many people are allergic to nickel, which is commonly used in jewelry manufacturing. You would have to ask your piercer about what designs are easiest to take in and out, but remember that the rings that are easiest to remove are also the ones most likely to come out in the baby’s mouth, so be sure to take them out before nursing.
The website www.bodyworkprod.com is a large, professional piercing operation that has lots of information about body piercing, including information about its effect on breastfeeding. You might want to e-mail them if you have any more specific questions.