Breast Tattoos, Nipple Piercings and Breastfeeding

by Pregnancy.org Staff

Nipple Piercings

"Can I breastfeed with a nipple piercing?"
It is important to give your baby the best start in life and breast milk is one of the very best things you can do for your baby. Your nipple piercings should not prevent you from breastfeeding.

"There is no evidence that pierced nipples will affect your ability to breastfeed. Your breasts will still produce adequate milk for your baby, and unless your body rejected the piercing right after you had it done, there is no reason to anticipate any additional problems with infection.

It is unlikely that the holes that are left in your nipple will cause a problem. Each nipple has 15-20 tiny nipple pores that the milk comes out of, so even if some were damaged, there should be plenty left for nursing. Breast surgery often damages the milk ducts inside the breast, and this can definitely create problems. The situation with nipple piercing is very different." -Anne, IBCLC

You might want to consider changing your piercing to something that is easy to remove before feeding and put back in after feeding, for example circular barbells, PFTE barbells, or straight barbells. Use a lanolin based nipple ointment to make it easier to insert, or express some milk onto the end of the bar. This helps to keep the piercing healthy.

Another option is to remove your piercing until you are done breastfeeding. Sometimes the hole might close. You might have to stretch your piercing to fit the jewelery or have the piercing done again. How long you have had your piercing, your skin type and what gauge it started at would affect your decision.

Some problems you may encounter while breastfeeding are:

  • If your baby latches incorrectly, your nipples may become sore or irritated and it will be painful to reinsert your jewelry.
  • If you breastfeed in public, you will need to remove your piercing, exposing your breasts for longer than you might be comfortable with.
  • Night nursing and co-sleeping while nursing is a wonderful experience but if your baby tries to latch onto your nipple while your piercing is still in, it can cause difficulties. You might want to consider sleeping without the piercing or be able to remove the piercing before your baby latches.

Another concern for breastfeeding mothers is whether the holes in the nipple will affect feeding. The nipple is made up of fatty tissue that is similar to a sponge. As a result, the milk comes out in various places and may include the piercing holes. This does not negatively affect nursing. If milk flow is increased because of the holes, it's usually not enough to choke your baby. It may even be helpful for babies that have a soft suckling motion.

"Can I have my nipples pierced while pregnant or breastfeeding?"
During nipple piercing, a piercing stud is injected lengthwise through your nipple. While very slight, there is a risk of infection. If enough scarring is caused, it could interfere with milk ducts. Piercing while breastfeeding isn't recommended for a number of reasons:

  • Nursing is very painful during the healing process
  • The piercing itself doesn't have an opportunity to heal undisturbed

Tattoos during Breastfeeding

A pre-existing healed tattoo will have no effect on breastfeeding. Because breast size changes dramatically during pregnancy and breastfeeding, a complex tattoo may be stretched.

Tattoos on the breast are not recommended during lactation.

"We suggest that people wait until breastfeeding is over before being tattooed, because making milk requires a lot of energy so you may not want to heal a tattoo during this time. Talk to your tattoo artist for their thoughts." -licensed tattooist

You risk contracting a blood borne disease or infection in body decoration procedure that involves breaking the skin if the needles used are not properly sterilized or are contaminated in some way. Should the underlying tissue become infected, there is a slight risk that it could alter your milk in clarity and amount.

Comments

I have never thought of the problem regarding breastfeeding with piercing until now. It's recommended that you not to wear piercing throughout the lactation. It is safer this way, for you and even for the baby.