Breastfeeding and Breast Piercings

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Many new parents who have nipple and/or breast piercings may wonder if their piercings will inhibit their ability to breastfeed. However, breastfeeding can be successful with nipples and breasts of all shapes and sizes—and this includes pierced nipples and breasts, too. There are, however, special precautions to take to make sure that your baby is safe from any choking hazards. Plus, there are a few potential issues specific to piercings that can occasionally pose challenges for nursing.

Overview

Pierced nipples do not usually cause complications with breastfeeding. In general, piercings in the nipple will not affect your breast milk supply or your ability to make breast milk. Piercings on other areas of the breast may interfere with milk production or nursing but usually are not a cause for concern, and most likely, you can still breastfeed. The main issue is safety for the baby regarding the jewelry that goes in the piercing.

Putting any small object, such as jewelry, in a baby's mouth is not recommended. So, it's always advisable to remove the nipple piercing before nursing your child to eliminate any risk of choking or injury. This is true even if your jewelry seems very securely fastened, as it still could come loose. Aim to avoid wearing the nipple or breast jewelry for the duration of breastfeeding.

Past Infection

If you've had an infection related to your piercing at some point in the past, this history could cause some issues with breastfeeding. In some cases, infections can leave behind scarring. Scarring can close up your milk ducts, interfering with the flow of breast milk. However, with diligent nursing and/or pumping, you can usually still get your milk production and flow well-established.

If the piercing is currently infected, be sure to treat the issue to avoid passing it on to your baby. Discuss the issue with your doctor to ensure you follow an appropriate treatment and breastfeeding plan until the infection clears up.

Piercings on Other Areas of Your Breast

While pierced nipples don't typically cause any problems, a piercing on your areola (the dark area around the nipple) or the surrounding breast tissue could be an issue. If the piercing cuts into the milk ducts, it could impede the flow of breast milk out of your breasts. 

If your milk isn't able to flow out of a particular area of your breast, you may experience plugged milk ducts in that spot. And, if the piercing affects the nerves around the nipple and areola, it could interfere with your let-down reflex. Your doctor or lactation consultant can help you with these issues if they impede your breastfeeding.

As previously mentioned, a nipple ring or any type of breast jewelry that can go into your baby's mouth while you're breastfeeding can pose two problems:

  • A piece of jewelry left in place on the breast can be dangerous. If it comes off in your baby's mouth while you're breastfeeding, your child could choke.
  • It could also cut your baby's mouth or get in the way of their ability to latch on to your breast.

Breastfeeding Tips

While you're pregnant, be sure to discuss with your doctor how any piercings you may have on your breasts or nipples may impact your ability to breastfeed. If you have ever had an infection at the site of the piercing, let them know, as well. Your doctor can examine your breasts and your piercings to see if there's any reason they may interfere with successful breastfeeding and help you come up with strategies to overcome any issues. 

Usually, you will be advised to follow various techniques to boost your supply, such as frequent nursing, using an effective latch, fully draining both breasts, and varying your nursing positions. Overall, your breastfeeding experience will likely be similar to those without nipple piercings.

You may notice that your breast milk leaks through the holes of your piercing, but that's not a cause for concern. If it's enough liquid to be bothersome, once you remove the jewelry, you can wear nursing pads in your bra to help soak up the leaking breast milk. 

A Word From Verywell

In most cases, nipple piercings won't interfere with breastfeeding. Just be sure to remove your piercing before nursing so that your baby doesn't swallow your breast or nipple jewelry.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding with pierced nipples (or any other breastfeeding concerns), contact your doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local La Leche League group for help or more information. Often slight shifts in positioning or other technical changes can make a world of difference.

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  1. Lee B, Vangipuram R, Petersen E, Tyring SK. Complications associated with intimate body piercings. Dermatol Online J. 2018;24(7)

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. (2006). Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
  • Murray, Sharon Smith, and Emily Slone McKinney. Foundations of maternal-newborn and women's health nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2014.