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Body piercing is a form of self-expression and nipple piercings are one of them. However, if you are thinking of breastfeeding or if you are breastfeeding, you might be wondering how a piercing can affect nursing. Queries like can you breastfeed with nipple piercings or is it safe to breastfeed with your nipples pierced, could be your thoughts? This article dives into such questions and provides all the need-to-know information about breastfeeding with nipple piercings.
Is it Safe to Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings?
No, breastfeeding with jewelry pierced in them is not safe however, if you take them out you can safely nurse your child. Pierced nipples do not affect your ability to breastfeed your child, although it is best to wait for the piercing to heal fully before you breastfeed.
Breastmilk comes out of the mammary glands found in the breast tissue right behind the nipples of female mammals. After childbirth, these glands produce milk irrespective of the nipples being pierced. However, it could slightly affect the milk flow. This does not happen to everyone but it might happen if the piercing damages or blocks the milk duct to your nipples.
Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings: Related Issues
You need to be aware of other issues related to pierced nipples and breastfeeding. Some women can breastfeed fine with pierced nipples and do not experience any damaging effects. On the other hand, other women run into problems even if they are temporary. Here are the issues related to it:
- Blocked milk ducts: A piercing could possibly block or damage the milk ducts and scar the inside of the nipples. Scarring may remain invisible to the eye but it will block the flow of milk through the ducts. Scarring is more likely when there is more than one piercing in a single nipple.
- Mastitis or abscesses: Another risk associated with pierced nipples is that it could bring about problems like breast abscesses or mastitis. Mastitis is a kind of inflammation caused due to the blocking of the milk ducts. It may also occur if you have a bacterial infection such as a staph infection in your breasts. Symptoms of such an infection include swelling, redness, and breast soreness.
Breast abscesses form as a result of bacterial infections and they can be very painful. It can be identified by a swollen pus-filled lump on your breast. Mastitis resolves on its own but a breast abscess or a breast infection needs antibiotics to heal them.
- Infections: Staph bacteria can be normally found on the skin so mastitis can develop if you touch your piercing site frequently with your hands. Piercings in unhygienic conditions can also lead to infections. Also, if your skin has not been disinfected properly before being pierced, you could develop infections later on.
If you have a piercing hole in your nipple, your breastmilk will leak from them. You can use breast pads to deal with this issue by collecting the leaking milk in them. This change in milk flow can affect some infants.
It will take you 6 to 12 months to heal from a pierced nipple so plan in advance. Since human saliva is a breeding ground for bacteria, you need to wait till the piercing has fully healed before you start breastfeeding your baby. This will reduce the risk of infections.
How Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings Safely?
Wait for your nipple piercing to fully heal before you breastfeed your baby. Preferably remove your jewelry before you start nursing. This will eliminate potential choking hazards as the jewelry could come out into your baby’s mouth accidentally. Also, removing the pierced jewelry will help your baby latch on to your breasts better.
Ideally speaking, any pierced jewelry on your nipples must be removed as long as you breastfeed to decrease the chances of complications or infections. Once you remove your piercing, remember to clean it before reinserting it after each feeding. Here’s what you need to keep in mind in this aspect:
- Strictly wash your hands with a bar of antibacterial soap before you handle a nipple piercing, whether taking it out or putting it on.
- Before you insert a nipple piercing, thoroughly clean it with gentle unscented soap and warm water. You may also soak that jewelry in sea salt because of its natural antiseptic properties.
- Let the jewelry dry completely before reinserting.
Can You Get Your Nipples Pierced While Breastfeeding or During Pregnancy?
It is not okay to get your nipples pierced while breastfeeding or when pregnant as it takes up to 12 months to heal during which there is a risk of getting infected from your baby’s saliva. Wait until you have given birth before you get a nipple piercing. Also, wait for your postpartum effects to subside.
The Bottom Line: Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings?
There is always a huge risk in getting your nipples pierced as it could lead to infection so only choose a reputable piercing establishment. Take your nipple jewelry out while breastfeeding and use breast pads to stop the milk that will flow out of your healed piercing sites. Remember to keep your hands and jewelry clean with antiseptics and antibacterial soaps before reinserting after your nursing time is over. Keep these precautions in mind and you are good to go.