Can I breastfeed if I have nipple piercings?

June 28 2011 | offbeatbride
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Do nipple piercings and breastfeeding mix? Photo by William Ng, used with Creative Commons license.
I'm eight months pregnant and just finally decided to give breastfeeding my child a go. Problem? I had pierced nipples.

Well, I still have them, as the holes have not closed up.

I was told once by a piercer when I was going to get them double-pierced that the piercings were done semi-low and I might have problems with it in the future. I asked my OB and he said he's not really had any experience with this and that I shouldn't have problems.

I wanted to know if any offbeat mamas out there had REAL advice on the subject. Is there something I wouldn't think of I need to do? Or not to do? HELP!


  1. I'm no expert, but I think you might have some trouble with it. I don't know how you could get a nipple piercing without going through where the milk ducts are..but I suppose it's possible? I know a lot of people find they can't breastfeed if they have any kind of breast surgery (my sister managed it despite hers, but had to stop after 6 weeks because the surgery had left her breasts very tender and breastfeeding felt very uncomfortable for her).

    I'd say it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot- you might be able to breastfeed part time, at least, even if some of the ducts are broken/nonfunctional.

    1 agrees
  2. You can totally breastfeed. I took my piercing out ~3 mo preggo and the holes never closed up (my nips have been pierced for 6 yrs).
    I find I tend to leak out of the piercing holes if I get too full, so nursing pads are a must, but other than that, I've been able to successfully breast feed my 4 month old son just fine.

    7 agree
    • Unfortunately, I have found that all there is a large number of lactation consultants who know nothing about nursing with post-pierced nipples. I hope others find a different experience.

      1 agrees
  3. I had both of mine done and was able to breastfeed my daughter exclusively to 7 months and then as a supplement to meals and for comfort until 23 months. I took them out early in the pregnancy to let them heal up and had no trouble at all. When I'm done having babies I'm going to have them re-done as a gift to myself. πŸ˜€ Good luck and let us know how it goes!

    2 agree
  4. I know someone that mom was friends with did this just fine. But I also know that milk would spray out the piercings holes as well so nursing pads would be important, like someone else said.

    1 agrees
    • Yes, you need to remove the jewelry. And just to be thorough, it's not just because it's a sanitary issue or a choking hazard but it could have an impact on the child's oral anatomy.

      But yes, it's very unlikely that nipple piercings would prevent you from being able to successfully breastfeed.

      Still, as a first time breastfeeding mom it would be super helpful to find an IBCLC lactation consultant because you will have plenty of questions πŸ™‚

      2 agree
  5. I had both of my nipples pierced, had the piercings removed more than a year before nursing, my holes still had not closed. I think that may depend on how long you have had the piercings. Anyway, more to the point, one piercing was deeper and one more shallow (done on two different occasions) and I did not have any issues and breastfed for a year! I also have a close gf who had hers pierced, taken out and re-pierced and still didn't have any issues nursing her two sons….so, in my experience, you should be just fine!!

    1 agrees
  6. YES! You can. Just take the jewelry out. and I suggest keeping it out unless you are super careful with sterilization. Breast infections are a real concern while nursing.
    Your nipples are full of little tiny whole that the milk passes through having an extra set will not cause you any problems (barring you don't have some extreme damage or scar tissue). In my personal experience I have successfully breastfed two children despite have had my nipples pierced and know plenty of other mothers who have as well. Good luck!

    1 agrees
    • I had no problems with either of the first two, and expect the same with the upcoming third. πŸ™‚ This is also, though, with some interesting scar tissue on one side – an accident had torn the ring partially out on my left, and while I eventually took it out and had it re-done, the second round of piercing was a horribly botched job and those *both* came out not long after.
      The scarring has not affected them adversely in either general sensation or in nursing (thankfully!!) although even after several years, they take a great deal of care to keep clean.. they're partially closed, and I need to sort of get the gunk (dry skin, sweat, soap residue, whatnot) out of the still open spaces.
      It can be done!! In this case, though, the scar tissue just means a bit of extra care under 'usual' circumstances, and to be honest, frequent feedings and the required lanolin made things a little easier. πŸ™‚

  7. Hi! I have had breast augmentation surgery 3 years ago and have one pierced nipple. I took out the jewelry a very long time ago, but the holes are still there as they fill with lymph tissue regularly and I actually have to press it out (I know! yuck!). I was nervous about breastfeeding too, my doula said there really shouldn't be any problems, and recommended that I try to manually extract milk once in a while to check. i was getting nervous until week 37: milk leaked out of both my breasts!! SO, since you are 8 months pregnant, you could try too. But be patient, it took me a good 5 minutes on each side before anything came out. Also, pay close attention since the liquid that will come out is quite clear and not milk looking at all πŸ™‚

    here's for the technique:

    Good luck πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  8. I had two babies, my daughter before my nipple piercings and my son after. I removed my piercings when I was pregnant with my son to give the holes a chance to heal. I did have trouble breastfeeding my son (my milk supply was over-abundant with my daughter), and ultimately had to switch to formula. I've often wondered if my lack of breastfeeding success with my son was due to scar tissue/destroyed milk ducts from the piercings. Good luck to you!

    1 agrees
  9. Thank you thank you thank you for asking this. I had both of my nipples double pierced and have had to remove them for other reasons. But once my husband and I started talking about having another child together (we have children from other relationships) I was worried about not being able to breastfeed.
    I have scaring though so I don't know if the scar tissue has affected the nipple much or not.
    We'll see if/when that time comes.
    Good luck to you and yay for breastfeeding!

    3 agree
    • I was able to breastfeed from my right side (not much – I didn't have much milk, but that was unrelated to the piercings!) but had scarring on the left because of a piercing that had gotten infected. I wasn't able to get much at all out of that nipple, unfortunately.

  10. You most certainly can! Never nurse with any jewelry in the piercing because it can be a choking hazard, but other than that, it shouldn't interfere. Milk may leak out of the piercing when you experience let down, but that's not a problem, just a variation.

  11. I had both my nipples pierced, and still had the holes in them when I started feeding my little one (and still do now). Although we had latching issues to start with, I don't believe it was caused by the piercing holes as he is now feeding just fine. I agree with Courtney that you can leak out of the holes too, but now my little one is 3 months I don't seem to leak anymore. I do have a friend who didn't take out her nipple piercing until after the bubba was born, and she seemed to have no issues with that.

  12. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to be 100% sure that your piercings are healthy and healed before you take them out. Mine were not completely healed when I found out I was pregnant. I took them out, and breastfed comfortably for about five and a half months. But when they started to close up, one of them became swollen and painful. Everyone kept telling me I had a clogged milk duct, not to worry, and kept telling me to take hot showers, squeeze my breast, etc. Nothing worked, and I knew that my piercing was the problem. I finally went to the ER with a gigantic swollen breast and a nipple the size of a quarter. My piercing had become infected and the holes had closed up, trapping the infection inside. I had staph, and I had to stop breastfeeding at once and take a lot of very unpleasant medication. Needless to say, not only was I not ready to give up on breastfeeding, I was also not comfortable for quite some time.

    2 agree
  13. Some can breastfeed just fine and some have issues. If your piercing healed well then you should have no problem. Sometimes if the nipple does not heal properly or has too much scar tissue it can block your milk ducts and cause blockage. Just be aware of your body and if you feel extra pain see someone immediately.

    1 agrees
  14. Thank you all sooooo much for the help!!! I knew if o could go anywhere for some honest and helpful advice it would be the offbeat mama tribe!!!!

    3 agree
  15. I had my nipples piercecd and I breastfed just fine. The holes from the piercings didn't affect it at all. You should be just fine πŸ™‚

  16. Just to re-enforce what the other mamas have said- I am nursing my one year old after taking out my nipple rings a couple of years ago. When I was pierced I was told that because there are 8 milk ducts it would be pretty hard or impossible for the piercing to interfere will all of them (unless there was an infection/scar tissue). I had some leakage from the holes, especially at the beginning. The piercer also told me that I could switch to barbells while nursing, but I agree with an earlier comment that it is another thing to keep super clean and with my laziness it wasn't worth worrying about.

    Good luck- I hope it works out for you.

  17. I took my nipple rings out when I was pregnant and the holes are still not fully closed (and my daughter is 2!). But It didn't effect my breastfeeding her in any way. Same for several friends of mine, I've never met anyone who had a problem with it

  18. i took mine out at 8mos pregnant so i could bf, but only so they werent a choking hazard for the baby. The only difference after was the milk *still* comes out the holes of the piercing a year later as well as the top of the nipple.. kind of weird but no preblems

  19. Absolutely you can! I had my nipples pierced for 9 years prior to getting pregnant. I removed the rings the day of my induction. I had extra flow from the holes where the piercings were. Unless you have scarring you should have no problem, and may even have an easier time.
    Also, I was happy to find out that after 18 months of nursing I was able to put both rings back in. I had to use a smaller gauge ring at first. I had the piercings for so long that they just felt like part of me.

    Good luck!

    1 agrees
    • This whole thread is so comforting to me, but especially this comment! I had my nipples pierced about 8 years ago and even then knew I wanted kids and to try to bf so researched beforehand if the piercings would affect anything, but I've always still been slightly unsure! My partner and I are planning on trying for kids in the next year, so this is very timely for me. And I totally get the "feeling part of you" thing, so I'm hopeful that after so long they won't close up if I take them out to bf for a bit. Thank you (to all) for sharing!

  20. If your holes leak a bunch you should invest in a set of milkies milk catchers… I had a set and I loved that I wasn't wasting any milk by using nursing pads.

    1 agrees
  21. I took mine out the last weeks of pregnancy, breastfed until each kid was 6 months old with out them in. put them back and nursed without complications until each kid was 2yrs+. I'm sure it would have been fine with them the whole time but I was afraid of causing any soft palette issues.

  22. I had one pierced nipple (jewelry removed a few years prior to breastfeeding) and one unpierced. I was able to successfully BF from both sides with absolutely no problems. I think the spray was even more forceful in the side that was pierced πŸ™‚ My sister also bf'd after piercings and her piercing didn't close. I obviously had some scar tissue but it seemed that some of the friction from bf'ing reduced that and now my nipple looks much more similar to the unpierced one. Bonus!

  23. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has a lot of good information about nipple piercings and how to manage the holes while nursing. You will do awesome! Congratulations!!

    1 agrees
  24. Yes, you can! Fed the toddly folk both for a year.
    I took the rings out when I found out I was pregnant whith Mini Me.

    (mental note: time to put them back in πŸ™‚

  25. If you have problems with clogged ducts (I did…took my piercings out 6 months pregnant), take lecithin as a supplement. It solved the problem for me. Good luck!

  26. I had pierced nipples for 10 years before giving birth last September. 9 months later I am still breast feeding without issue. I think for me it hurt a little bit more because of some scar tissue on my nipples, but I got use to it after a few weeks. Breast feeding is hard with or without piercings. You may have a little extra leakage from the holes, but nothing that can't be controlled.

    Good Luck!

  27. From an article on the Le Leche League website –

    Several lactation consultants interviewed for this article said that breastfeeding problems were often observed in women who did not remove nipple jewelry before nursing. These difficulties included poor latch, babies frequently coming on and off the breast, slurping, gagging and milk leaking from the baby's mouth. Once the nipple jewelry was removed the problems stopped. In contrast, Elisabeth Speller tells of a nurse who had her nipples pierced and breastfed while wearing nipple rings.

    1 agrees
  28. I went to a Rocky Horror Picture Show, and there was a best breast contest. The winner had pierced lactating nipples and she was able to spray the first couple rows!

    3 agree
  29. I took mine out long before I got pregnant and I'd say they're about half closed, I've had no issues. A friend had hers REpierced a year or two before having her daughter, and had some difficulty with built up scar tissue impeding flow, but if you've had generally healthy piercing sites I wouldn't give it another thought. (She was still able to exclusively nurse, btw, using only one side.)

  30. Yes you can nurse. I did! But I of course took the piercings out a few months before baby come. The piercing holes leaked a bit and definitely gave more milk. But totally doable! Good luck!

  31. I was able to so I am sure you will be able to too. The one problem I had is that I had overactive let down and because of the scaring on my nipple not all of my milk ducts were able to release milk. The ones that did were forced to make up the difference and with all the pressure built up behind them they are like geysers on my chest. It took my daughter a while to learn how to handle the left breast but now that she is able to she perfers it over the other. It's good for her lazy periods as it does most of the work for her.

  32. I had nipple piercings until my third trimester. I took them out when they got too sore. I've been breastfeeding for nine months now with no probs. I wouldn't worry about it! I know my piercer breastfed after having hers done as well. πŸ™‚

  33. Yup you totally can – my breast with the nipple piercing actually had more effective milk than my other one:)

  34. I removed mine late pregnancy. When my 8.5 month old gets distracted while feeding it can make quite a mess because it shoots out the holes during my let down! I look like lawn sprinkler!

  35. I exclusively (no bottle) nursed my daughter for 16 months and I while I didn't have my piercings in my holes were still open and basically your milk comes out of every hole. It's actually kind of cool! Your kiddo will learn to latch properly (sometimes this doesn't happen right away so be patient!) and once he/she 'gets' it the little dude will nurse like a champ and your extra holes won't matter. Good luck and congrats!

  36. Thanks so much guys, I asked the same question last week! And I'm very relieved to hear that even if the pierced side doesn't work that the other should!

  37. You will have no trouble when it comes to having had nipple piercings. I had my nipples pierced on two different occasions. . . creating four holes in my poor nipples! I breastfed with no hassle with my son. I plan on having no hassle with my daughter that's on the way!
    I think the only thing to have any worry about is milk supply! There are plenty of things to help with that as well.
    Good luck : )

    1 agrees
  38. I had large nipple piercings (4gauge) for years and years and took them out when I was about 4 months pregnant with my first babe. They were irritating with my breasts being so tender – however, I had not ONE issue breastfeeding whatsoever. I don't know anything about breast feeding with piercings in, probably not a good idea, and you probably won't want to – but in my experience- the piercing itself did not damage milk ducts or effect my breastfeeding in any way.

  39. You can TOTALLY nurse no problem, you would have to have some seriously wicked scarification of your nips for them to not work. They are like a sprinkler head, except yours have 2 extra holes! I had my nipples pierced for 4 years before breastfeeding and I have been happily feeding my daughter via-da-boob for 17 months!

    1 agrees
  40. I had mine done and I have been ebf for 15 months and going strong. it wont effect your production, you just will have more holes for milk to come out. wear breastpads until your supply regulates and it wont be an issue. your baby will thank you for the fast easy flow and it could actually make bfing easier!

  41. I've had nipple piercings before and it caused absolutely no issues breastfeeding. Not to say we didn't have issues, but they were entirely unrelated! Of course I don't think you can breastfeed with the jewellery still in, but the holes it leaves behind are no problem. Milk might squirt out of the piercings, but it's going to squirt out in all sorts of odd directions anyway. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  42. I had my nipples pierced, but had taken them out and let them heal before my son was born, and had no problem breast feeding. so i think you should be good.

  43. I did when i was a teen. I am now 32 and have exclusively been breastfeeding my 11month old. I have scar tissue there from an accident on the beach. Both my personal and professional opinion, its fine. There isn't just one milk duct, there are many. The only time breastfeeding can not be done is when a women has a breast reduction and the nipple is reconstructed. Good luck.

  44. Had my left nipple pierced.. with both babies it leaked almost constantly and would never get engorged except in the very beginning. My right one, however, was not pierced and would get huge, while all the leaking kept my lefty smaller.. baby prefers the fuller boob.. no problems producing milk at all though. =)

  45. I am 8 months into my breastfeeding experience. When my girl was born my holes were still open. I had not issues will production or baby latching. The only issue I had was a small milk blister. This was right around where my piercing was so I am not sure if it was related. I was able to clear the blocked milk from the blister and it healed up with no issues but was painful prior to healing.

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