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Q & A
with Denise Robinson

Henna Hand Breastfeeding with pierced nips--it *can* be done! Some hints...(long)
by dragonlynx
Originally appeared in rec.arts.bodyart March 8, 2000
Reprinted with permission

I wanted to share this information as it seems to be an issue that always shows up on this group. My son and I have been a successful breastfeeding pair for three months now even though I have my left nip pierced, so I'd like to share the things that helped make this possible for us:
  1. when you're pregnant, the first thing that happens is that your breasts grow--a lot--so be prepared with larger jewelry. Expect to need rings at least one size larger in diameter than what you're wearing now, maybe even more than that. I personally found that the 3/4" ring I had been happily wearing for years was now irritating my pierce (and the skin the ring touched also, as if I had developed an allergy to the metal) so I switched to a 1" straight barbell and the irritation ended. I would strongly encourage anyone wearing rings to consider investing in barbells during pregnancy. Your breasts will be sore enough as it is, so you won't want any extra discomfort at this time.
  2. be sure to either read about breastfeeding technique before birth, or talk to a knowledgeable person about it. 99% of the battle when it comes to successful breastfeeding is helping baby achieve a proper latch onto your nipple. If baby cannot or will not feed properly, you will both be miserable and you will most defiantly lose your pierces. Improper latch-on is what causes cracked, bleeding and *very* sore nipples. Surprisingly, nursing is not something that comes naturally to a majority of babies or new mothers. In a nutshell, the two most important factors in successful nursing is to make sure baby has more than just your nipple in its mouth (there should be a hunk of areola as well). The other factor is to make sure you position baby tummy-to-tummy with you (so that baby does not have to crane its neck to feed). If your baby figures out how to nurse successfully in a short amount of time, you will probably be home free in terms of keeping your nip pierces. If you don't seem to be getting the hang of it, ask for help sooner rather than later--before baby trashes your nips completely :-)
  3. after birth, be ready with jewelry that can easily be removed and reinserted (no, you don't leave your metal in when you nurse). For me, that meant taking a ring and widening the gap between the ends so that the shape was a half-moon or semi-circle rather than a circle. This makes it very easy to get in and out before and after feedings. Don't try to get a barbell or anything with edges in an out of nips baby has been chewing on for 18 hours a day!
  4. a product that is a *must* for breastfeeding women: Lasinosh. This is pure, hypo-allergenic lanolin that you apply after each feeding or as needed. It is a wonderful moisturizer that will save your nips from oblivion in those first few months. I received a small tube of this wonderful stuff from the lactation consultant at the hospital, but if you are not so fortunate be sure someone runs to the drug store and gets you some before you bring baby home. This product will do more to save your nips (and your pierces) than anything else I can think of.
  5. finally, it must be said that when contemplating getting your nips pierced, the most important thing is to make sure there is a minimum amount of scar tissue created. So, in other words, try to get your nips pierced only once if you think you will ever be trying to breastfeed one day. IMHO, this means using straight barbells as your initial jewelry so that the pierces heal quickly and cleanly. Multiple piercings due to ring rejections will mean more scar tissue, which could possibly lead to problems with milk flow. In addition, I would not try to breastfeed with nip pierces under a year old, which is about what it takes to totally heal nipple pierces. Babies are really hard on nips even when they nurse correctly, and would probably destroy healing pierces in a few days.
    Well ladies, that's it!. I don't read this group anymore so email me if you have any questions or concerns. I'd be glad to answer. Happy nursing with your metal!


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