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2D.2c Nipple Piercings And Breastfeeding

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This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.

2D.2c Nipple Piercings And Breastfeeding

Most piercers maintain that nipple piercings are unlikely to interfere
with breastfeeding later in life, provided that the piercings have
completely healed with minimal scarring. However, no studies regarding
nipple piercings and breastfeeding have been conducted.

The nipple contains 15 to 20 milk ducts. Nipple piercings intersect
the nipple and the milk ducts perpendicularly. At least a few ducts
would be blocked by the piercing. There is a risk that the blocked
ducts could become infected if the milk collects in the blocked ducts
and cannot be expressed. Women who have recently finished
breastfeeding should wait until they have completely finished
lactating before getting pierced. Piercing the nipple will not induce
lactation but may prolong lactation if the woman has recently

For some women, the jewelry becomes extremely uncomfortable during the
final tri-mester when the breasts and nipples enlarge and become more
sensitive. Larger diameter rings may be required to allow for

Breastfeeding can be quite painful at first for many women. Removing
the jewelry for frequent breastfeeding may become tiresome and
painful. The piercing may shrink while the jewelry is out,
necessitating an insertion taper to reinsert the
jewelry. Internally-threaded barbells are easier than rings to remove
and replace.

The jewelry can damage the baby's delicate palate and prevent the baby
from forming the tight seal around the areola necessary for breast

Kelly Fahey <kelfay@ix.netcom.com> comments:

"I will caveat this by saying that had my nipples pierced well after I
had my kid and stopped nursing. So I have experience in nursing and in
pierced nipples, but not in nursing with pierced nipples. I have
lactated consistently since my son was born 5 years ago. I've
continued to lactate no more or less with pierced nipples than I did
with unpierced nipples (ok, so it was a bit more at first!).

"There are 2 things that would seem to possibly affect a decision to
pierce the nipples in regard to lactation. The first is that the
jewelry would have to be removed during the period of nursing. In my
experience, it is completely unreasonable to think you could remove
the jewelry only when it's time to nurse. Time to nurse (in the first
few months) means every 3 to 4 hours. Imagine taking time to remove
nipple rings at 3 am with a baby screaming! Pregnancy and nursing
change the body incredibly. It's entirely logical that the piercings
would close during this period, and even if they didn't the breasts
and nipples are most likely not going to be shaped quite the same
after weaning.

"The second factor is that breast milk comes from various small
openings (ducts) in the nipple surface, not a single one. I'm certain
that some of the milk ducts in the nipple surface are lost in
piercing. Additionally, the suckling sensation might prove to be
really uncomfortable with any scar tissue formed around a well-healed
piercing. Nursing can be intensely painful all by itself. "

Another woman comments:

"Although I did breastfeed both my girls (the baby until she was 3) I
didn't have my nipples pierced then. I do now, and I think that the
gauge of the ring would really mess up the milk expulsion. I still had
milk at the time of my nipple piercing although haven't nursed in
years, and the rings pierced the ducts and they now don't express like
they did prior to the piercing. In my opinion it is best to wait on
the nipple rings until the breastfeeding experience is over."

Caro <caro@camelot.com>, <caro@nix.ha.md.us>,
http://nix.ha.md.us/~caro comments:

"I had stopped breastfeeding about six months before I was pierced,
and I had, to my knowledge, stopped lactating. When I was pierced, it
stimulated lactation, my doctor said. As I wasn't nursing or
expressing, I developed a breast infection and had to be treated with

"So my response would be this: If you have already nursed a baby, it's
possible that a piercing will cause you to relactate. If you have not
already nursed a baby, piercing will not induce lactation. Note: It is
possible for a woman to nurse an adopted baby, so hormones are not
totally necessary for lactation, but repeated persistent stimulation
of the right kind is required."


Lactation Institute, Encino, CA, (818) 995-1913, Chele Marmet,


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