Let’s talk about something every woman has but is often uncomfortable discussing…nipples!
Many mamas write to me asking about the normal nipple size for breastfeeding. They wonder what to do about large nipples while breastfeeding and if those big nipples mean the baby won’t latch.
Breastfeeding with large, heavy breasts can be frustrating at times. If your nipple is too big for your newborn to latch, you may wonder if you’ll be stuck pumping or how to get things going right so you can nurse your baby.
So, let’s go through these questions together, and you’ll see that you’re not alone, no matter your nipple size!
Does nipple size affect latching?
There is no one best nipple shape for breastfeeding. The shape and size of your nipples won’t affect being able to breastfeed. Even if you have very large nipples. Your baby’s mouth simply needs to cover enough of your areola to compress the milk ducts.
Remember, your baby’s mouth will grow too. As that happens, it becomes easier for them to latch.
Can your nipples be too big for breastfeeding?
No! We are all different even though we have the same parts. You may have large nipples, while your bestie has small ones. And this is completely fine.
But if you feel like your nipples are getting in the way of that perfect latch, again, I urge you to contact La Leche League in your area and discuss it with a lactation consultant or breastfeeding coach.
If you’re about to deliver your baby, you can also discuss this with your midwife or doctor to learn how you can still succeed at breastfeeding, even with more prominent nipples.
How do I know if my nipples are too big to breastfeed?
I have large nipples, so there you go. And I had no trouble breastfeeding, though I did have Vivien, my amazing breastfeeding coach, to help show me what to do.
I strongly advise you, no matter your nipple size, to round out the support behind you. You may find you have no problems and can naturally get that good latch on the first try. Or you may struggle with it. And if you struggle, you’ll have all the right people in your corner to help.
In the chance, your nipple is still too big, and your baby can’t latch well, then start expressing your milk as soon as possible after giving birth. You’ll want to pump at least 8 times within 24 hours to build up that milk supply.
How can I get my baby to latch on with big nipples?
No matter what they’re like, your baby needs to get the entire nipple and a good portion of your areola into her mouth to get a good latch. This will have them squeezing those milk ducts to push out the milk.
Babies have small mouths, so can this work with large nipples?
If your nipple is so big that it takes up your child’s entire mouth, it can make things difficult. You don’t want to leave that stuck in your breast too long, or they will become engorged, and your milk ducts will get stopped. And that will HURT! I am telling you, this is so painful. You’ll want to start pumping to relieve yourself before it’s too late.
Cracked, sore, and bleeding nipples are the absolute worst!
In addition to seeking help from those in your area with that know-how, here’s what you can try on your own…
- Let baby open wide
Sometimes you just need to be patient to let your child open up wide enough to get the nipple and that surrounding area. If you touch the baby on the cheek or lips, it could cause her to open up wide naturally.
- Give it a squeeze
Try a U-hold on your breast by holding it from below with your thumb on one side while your fingers are on the other. You can then gently squeeze while guiding the nipple and areola into the mouth.
- Try a nipple shield
Some women find a nipple shield to be extra helpful during these early newborn nursing days. It can help a small baby latch on and has the bonus of protecting your nipples.
- Go for the hold
The football or clutch hold is a great position. It lets you see your nipple so you can expertly guide it in. Try it!
Don’t forget that:
If your baby is creating enough soiled diapers (either in poo or pee) and is gaining weight and length, they are likely getting enough breast milk. But if it’s lacking in either of these, you will see they’re not growing or making the number of dirty diapers they should. Definitely get your doctor involved here if that’s the case!
What should my nipple look like after breastfeeding?
After a feeding, you should have round nipples. A huge or long nipple after breastfeeding may indicate you’re not getting the proper latch. Look to see if your nipple is slanted or has a white line running through it. If you see these things, your latch is off a bit.
Does breastfeeding change your nipples permanently?
Yes, but it happens due to pregnancy really, not so much from breastfeeding.
Your hormones are going through big changes during pregnancy, impacting your breast tissues. You may notice darker nipples, and your areola may get bigger. This is all normal as your body gets ready for the baby.
But there are permanent changes you’ll have to live with. Your breasts may double or triple in size when you’re lactating. This can lead to stretch marks or prominent vein exposure. After you finish nursing, your breasts may decrease in volume, and some of you will be lucky and have your skin tightened to fit this reduced size. Other times, it won’t work out, though.
These things are minor in the grand scheme of things, though. The most important point is that nipples change to accommodate your baby. If you find your nipples are causing trouble, reach out for that help to get that latch just right and make your breastfeeding experience better!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.