Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing and sacrificial things about becoming a new mom. Not only does it provide benefits for the baby such as boosting their immune system, providing a sense of security, and lots of nutrients, but it also does great things for the mom too. It decreases mom’s chance of post-partum depression, helps shed the extra baby weight, and lowers the risk of certain cancers later in life.Baby Care
Can you breastfeed with nipple piercings?
Of course, you can!
Although becoming a mom will change your life, it does not mean that it has to change you. Can you breastfeed with nipple piercings? Of course, you can. Piercings are a form of self-expression, and shouldn’t hinder your breastfeeding at all as long as the piercings are healed and you use proper hygiene. There are risks for both mom and baby, however, they can be prevented.
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Risks for breastfeeding mothers with nipple piercings include leaking milk from the holes, build-up of scar tissue, or either an increase or decrease in the sensitivity of the nipple. You can also develop mastitis, which is a painful infection of the breast tissue due to a clogged milk duct. (I had this with my second son, and it is the sickest I have ever been in my life!)
For your baby, the risks are low as long as you are smart about things. You should remove the rings while feeding your baby, which causes milk to leak out of the holes and creates a very fast flow of breastmilk. This can make your baby cough or choke, but just watch them carefully and make sure that you burp them well after each feeding. Other problems include clogged ducts that lead to a lower milk supply, latch difficulties, or a bacterial infection. If you do not remove the jewelry while breastfeeding, you can cause damage to your babies mouth or cause them to choke on the ring itself. Watching your baby’s weight and making sure that they have an adequate amount of wet and dirty diapers is a great way to ensure that they are getting enough milk. Talk to your pediatrician about exactly how many to expect for your babies age.
How long does it take nipple piercings to heal?
A nipple piercing can take one to two years to completely heal. During that time, the most common problems to expect are infections or rejection of the piercing. You must leave the jewelry in during the healing process, which would make breastfeeding dangerous for an infant because of the risk of choking. Also, saliva from the infant can enter into the healing holes and can cause a bacterial infection, which can be bad for both the mother and the baby.
For these reasons, it is recommended that if you are considering having your nipples pierced, you should do so two years before you try to get pregnant or six months after your baby is born and you are finished breastfeeding. Waiting after your pregnancy gives your body time to shed the pregnancy hormones that change your breasts. Those hormonal changes can actually increase your risk of rejection of the jewelry or cause embedding of the jewelry. (Ouch!)
Another important reason that you should make sure your piercing is fully healed is because removing and reinserting a piercing increases your risk of infection. It is recommended to remove it during pregnancy to avoid nipple stimulation which can cause early labor. Also, many breastfeeding moms remove the piercing altogether while they are nursing because even if it is healed, reinserting it frequently can cause tenderness. Leaving the jewelry it in place is unsafe and can cause latch problems, damage to the infant’s mouth, as well as choking or infection. If you absolutely have to keep the piercing in place, use a straight barbell but make sure that the ends are tightened before and after each feeding.
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How do you clean a nipple piercing?
There are risks for both mom and baby, however, they can be prevented while the piercing is healing, it is vital to clean it properly to prevent an infection. The first few months after you get it pierced, you should do several sea salt soaks and wipe it with a sea salt cleanser a few times daily. You may get some “crusties” for around the sites. Don’t twist your rings to get them to go away. They are a healthy part of the healing process. The sea salt soak will help break them up so that they can wipe away easily. After your piercings heal, you should still clean them daily with a sea salt-based cleanser. Before your breastfeed, make sure that the site is clean and that you have rinsed the breast from any cleansers.
It is important to avoid using products containing alcohol or harsh soaps. These can cause drying, which increases your risk of infection. Even with great hygiene, you can still get an infection. Read on about how to treat this quickly and safely.
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How do you treat an infected nipple piercing?
It is very important to treat an infection! A small infection can spread and get into other organs or bloodstream. Nipple piercings are different than other piercings because they are close to the lymph system, which can carry bacteria through your body more quickly. Signs of an infection include redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, odor or discharge from the site, rash, body aches, or fever.
If you notice a local infection (which means it is just at your piercing site), the first thing you want to do is clean the area very well. After washing your hands, clean around the site using a soap for sensitive skin or your sea salt cleanser to avoid irritating the area even more. You should not use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic creams or ointments, or any soaps or cleansers that are not for sensitive skin.
Next, apply a warm compress to the area. This increases blood flow to the area, which can send more infection-fighting cells and improve drainage to get the infection out. A washcloth makes a great warm compress, but be sure that it is not too hot before applying it to your nipple. You can also make a warm water and salt mix in a small container, and soak your breast in it. Either the soak or the compress should be done for about 10 minutes three times a day, followed by a good cleanse to the area.
If the infection continues, or if you begin to experience systemic infection symptoms such as fever or body aches, seek help from your doctor immediately. You may need to be put on an antibiotic pill to help clear up the infection. Be sure to tell them that you are pregnant or breastfeeding so that they can make sure that the antibiotic is safe for the baby. Many medications pass through to the baby and can be harmful.
Struggles are normal for all breastfeeding moms. If you are having difficulties, talk to your doctor or contact the lactation consultant at your local hospital for further guidance. Try to seek help as soon as you can. Your supply can decrease quickly if you don’t. Breastfeeding your baby is an incredible thing, (although it makes you feel like a barnyard animal). Don’t give up on it. Seek help and realize that someday you will wish you had these days back.
Recommendations when you Breastfeed with Pierced Nipples
- Always remove jewelry while you are breastfeeding your baby
- Make sure to heal carefully the nipple piercings before breastfeeding
- Note that there is always a risk of problems breastfeeding related to nipple piercings
- Contact your doctor anytime if you have any doubt/symptom of nipple piercing infection