Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding with Flat or Inverted Nipples

on September 14, 2015

Breasts and nipples have as much diversity in shape and size as our other body parts.  The range of normal is very wide and most of us don’t look like the pictures in the breastfeeding books or videos. Many mothers notice that their breasts are not exactly the same size and their nipples may not be identical.  The good news is babies are pretty motivated to figure out how to breastfeed regardless of your breast and nipple shape and size.  Most babies will suck on anything that gets near their mouths including adult arms, necks, and noses.  They have even been known to surprise shirtless men whose chests get in proximity to baby’s mouth.

The most important thing to remember is that babies BREASTfeed not NIPPLEfeed.  As long as baby can get a good portion of the breast in his mouth then most types of flat or inverted nipples will not cause problems.  When a baby latches well his gums are closing past the base of the nipple on the darker area called the areola.  Areolas can be small or cover half of the breast tissue.  Baby doesn’t have to have the whole areola in his mouth, just enough of it that he is getting a deep latch.

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You can confirm that you have a flat or inverted nipple by doing a “pinch” test.  Gently compress the areola about an inch behind the nipple.  If the nipple doesn’t become erect then it is considered to be flat.  If the nipple retreats or dimples inwards then it is considered to be inverted.  In the early days of breastfeeding nipples can look flat due to engorgement.  Truly flat or inverted nipples have never become erect when stimulated or exposed to cold.

Some types of nipples are more challenging for baby but with some coaching and patience you can get breastfeeding off to a good start.  Babies who are recovering from a medicated birth, have some structural difference to their jaw shape or tongue flexibility, or who are exposed to artificial nipples can have a more difficult time figuring out how to latch properly.

If you think you have flat or inverted nipples it can be helpful to talk to a La Leche League Leader before your baby is born to get some tips to smooth out the first few days.  If you are struggling with sore nipples or getting baby to latch well, get help right away.  Baby will probably figure it out but with some assistance you can speed up the learning and healing process.

More information about flat and inverted nipples can be found HERE. 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


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