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Dealing with Flat or Inverted Nipples


One of the more common difficulties mothers who want to breastfeed face is flat or inverted nipples. Flat or inverted nipples are caused by variations in the size and shape of your nipples which make them harder for your baby to grasp while attempting to breastfeed. While most nipples protrude when stimulated, making them easy for babies to suckle flat nipples don’t respond to stimulation and inverted nipples may actually pull back when stimulated.

In most cases, expectant mothers can tell if they have flat or inverted nipples before giving birth. If you’re not sure, you can test your nipples by giving yourself a simple pinch test. Simply pinch the areola gently between your thumb and forefinger. If the nipple protrudes, you are fine. If it doesn’t, you likely have flat or inverted nipples.

Whether the problem is discovered before the baby is born or after, there are several things you can do to address flat or inverted nipples to that you can breastfeed your baby. These include:

  • Breast shells. Breast shells are shaped like plastic cups and are worn inside your bra. They work by applying pressure to the areola, which generally causes the nipples to protrude. They are particularly effective if used during the third trimester of pregnancy, but are also beneficial when used after the baby is born.
  • Hoffman technique. Two to five times per day, place the thumbs of both of your hands at the base of your nipples, then gently pull them apart until the nipple protrudes. You can do this while pregnant and after the baby is born.
  • Oral or manual stimulation. Your partner may be able to help with flat or protruding nipples by orally or manually stimulating your nipples. Most women find their partners are very willing to help prepare their nipples for nursing the baby.
  • Breast pump. After your baby is born, you can draw out your nipples with a breast pump immediately before feeding your baby. Additionally, you can pump breast milk to help supplement your breastfeeding if your baby isn’t able to get all the milk she needs directly from the breast.

If you are having trouble nursing because of flat or inverted nipples despite having tried these suggestions, don’t give up. Speak with a lactation consultant. Most women can overcome flat or inverted nipples and breastfeed their babies. In most cases, flat or inverted nipples are less of a problem as the baby grows and is able to exert more pressure while breastfeeding.

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Posted in Breastfeeding |
Breastfeeding Benefits for Moms



breastfeeding (Photo credit: sdminor81)


By now, practically everyone knows that breastfeeding is best for babies. What fewer women realize is that breastfeeding actually has lots of health benefits for moms, too. Some of the benefits are immediate, while other benefits can last into old age.

Here are some of the health benefits realized by mothers who breastfeed their babies:

  • Reduced uterine bleeding. Breastfeeding releases hormones which help reduce your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. This in turn helps stop uterine bleeding.
  • Emotional bonding. Mothers who breastfeed often claim to have a closer emotional bond with their babies because of breastfeeding.
  • Lower risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that women who have breastfed at least one baby have significantly lower chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Lower risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding has also been linked to lower chances of developing ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Lower risk of osteoporosis. Most of us aren’t thinking about osteoporosis in our childbearing years, but maybe we should be. Studies consistently show lower rates of this debilitating condition among women who breastfed their children.
  • Provides natural birth control. While breastfeeding doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get pregnant, it does help with natural child spacing by delaying ovulation.
  • Weight loss. Believe it or not, breastfeeding eats up Calories. Lots of them. Your body burns up 20 Calories for every ounce of breast milk produced. Multiply that times 20-30 ounces per day for the average baby, and it adds up fewer hours on the treadmill.
  • Reduces depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that women who breastfeed are less likely to have severe postpartum depression and anxiety.
  • Easy on the pocketbook. Bottles and formula are expensive. Very expensive. Your body produces all the nutrients your baby needs, and it does so without adding one thin dime to your grocery bill. Maybe all that extra money in the pocketbook has something to do with the lower instances of anxiety.

Of course, all this says nothing of the well-known benefits to babies. The more we study breastfeeding, the more benefits we find, both for mothers and for their babies. When you consider all of the benefits, it makes breastfeeding the easy choice when it’s possible.

In today’s world, it’s becoming easier to make the choice to breastfeed. As society becomes more educated about the benefits of breastfeeding, new mothers are finding that most employers and businesses are willing to accommodate their needs as breastfeeding moms.

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Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby

Many adoptive mothers bottle feed their babies because they believe that’s the only choice they have. While we applaud all adoptive parents, regardless of how they choose to feed their babies, the truth is that adoptive parents are often able to breastfeed their adopted children through relactation or induced lactation.

The process doesn’t work for everyone, but many adoptive mothers, including those who have never breastfed or even been pregnant, are able to breastfeed their babies. Nearly all women lactate and produce breast milk on some level. Here are some of the techniques used by adoptive mothers to increase lactation to the point that they can provide at least some of their baby’s nutrition through breastfeeding:

  • Using a breast pump. Adoptive mothers should ideally begin using a breast pump every two to three hours before the baby arrives. If baby is already here, you can still start. The more stimulation your breasts receive, the more likely you will be to be able to produce enough milk for baby’s nourishment.
  • Lact-Aid. The nurser training system basically allows baby to feed at your breast while receiving formula through a tube while is attached to your nipple. In a best case scenario, this will help you to lactate while still offering baby adequate nourishment. In a worst case scenario, you will still be able to enjoy the bonding and closeness of feeding baby at your breast. While the formula does not offer all of the health benefits of breast milk, it does offer the opportunity to give you and your baby many of the emotional benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Medela SNS: The supplemental nursing system, or SNS is similar to Lact-Aid. The difference is that Medela was specifically designed to help adoptive mothers lactate. It can also be used to give baby supplements both short term and long term as needed.

If you decide to try to breast feed your adopted baby, you are to be highly commended. One word of caution, though. You need to understand that it can be a trying experience, and often frustrating. Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t able to produce enough breast milk to supply all of baby’s needs. Consider joining a breastfeeding support group to keep yourself encouraged.

Most adopted mothers can produce at least some breast milk, but very few can produce enough to give baby all of the nutrition she needs. Know that every little bit helps, and you are doing a very good thing for your baby.

Posted in Breastfeeding |
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