Can You Breastfeed With Nipple Piercings?

While nipple piercings seem to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts, people have been piercing their nipples for a long time. Before it was seen as a sexual act of rebellion, nipple piercings were a symbol of masculinity worn by sailors and warriors in Ancient Rome (per Vice). Julius Caesar even rocked one. However, it wasn't until around the late 14th century that a woman was credited with donning the body jewelry. Isabella of Bavaria, Queen of France, is said to have adorned herself in elaborate nipple jewelry made of delicate, golden chains often hanging with diamonds.

If that description made you want to run out and get your nipple pierced, you're not alone. Queen Isabella was something of a trendsetter, inciting a wave of women to pierce their nipples. However, they did so as an act of rebellion, showing the world that their bodies were made for more than just child-rearing. In turn, this sparked outrage in the medical community, which rejected this nontraditional use of the female nipple.

Today, however, women know that those things are not mutually exclusive. But can nipple piercings get in the way of breastfeeding? Here's what we found out.

Breastfeeding with pierced nipples

Women who have previously had their nipples pierced can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their piercings won't prohibit them from breastfeeding. The experts at Healthline point out that milk production begins in the mammary glands, on which nipple piercings have no effect. However, while breastfeeding is certainly possible with previously pierced nipples, The Lactation Network points out that the extra holes may contribute to a faster flow of milk, which can make more of a mess for you and your baby. There is also the possibility of a piercing hole damaging the nipple ducts, which has the potential to make milk flow more difficult.

Although breastfeeding is perfectly safe with previously pierced nipples, some precautions must be taken if the jewelry still remains on the nipple. For starters, not only can jewelry make it harder for your baby to latch, but it also presents a choking hazard should the ring become dislodged, as per La Leche League International. What's more, the metal jewelry has the potential to damage the soft tissue on the inside of your baby's mouth. For those reasons, it's imperative that you take your nipple jewelry out before breastfeeding. While it's recommended that you keep your jewelry out until you've completed your breastfeeding journey, if you do choose to put it back in between feedings, it's crucial to wash your hands and disinfect your jewelry each time to prevent infection.

Can you get a nipple piercing while breastfeeding?

As for acquiring a new nipple piercing while breastfeeding, it is not recommended. As a matter of fact, in most cases, credible artists will refuse to pierce the nipple of a nursing woman, according to The Lactation Network. While breastfeeding with previously pierced nipples is generally safe for most women, there is an increased risk of infection when nipples are newly pierced. In addition, nipple piercings could take anywhere from six months to a year to heal. Before that, the incidence of infection is high, even without the additional stress of breastfeeding. Germs from your infant's mouth, as well as bacteria in your breast milk will increase the likelihood of infection, along with complications like mastitis, which is a painful condition that occurs when the milk duct becomes blocked.

Therefore, because pregnancy and sleep deprivation put a damper on your immune response and can make healing more difficult, it's recommended that you don't get your nipples pierced until after you've finished breastfeeding.