Nipple size

What is a normal nipple size?

Average nipple size is about 1 cm (3/8 of an inch) both in length and in width. There is a large range of nipple size. Although it is uncommon for nipple size to cause latching problems, very big nipples can be a problem for some small premature babies. Their mouths may not be big enough to latch. Mothers with very large nipples may not be able to use a regular size of breast or nipple shield.

A) Nipple size

Nipples will become slightly longer and wider during pregnancy (Thanaboonyawat 2013). 

1) Nipple width

The average nipple is about 1cm (3/8 of an inch) wide (Zucca-Matthes 2016). We have seen nipple widths between 0.5 cm (3/16 of an inch) and 2.5 cm (1 inch).

2) Nipple length

An average nipple is about 1 cm (3/8 of an inch) in length (Zucca-Matthes 2016). We have seen nipple lengths between 0.5 cm (1/5 of an inch) and 2.5 cm (1 inch).

B) Problems caused by nipple size

1) Problems breastfeeding

Nipple size rarely causes latching problems.

Larger nipples can be wider, longer, or both when compared to other mothers. Very large nipples can pose a problem for very small babies as their mouths can be too small to accommodate a very large nipple. The baby may have to grow a little to be able to latch and breastfeed effectively. Larger nipples are more common in Asian mothers.

Nipples can also be smaller than average but this is very unlikely to affect breastfeeding. 

2) Problems with equipment

Mothers with very large nipples may not be able to use a regular size (24-mm) nipple shield.

Mothers with nipples that are smaller or larger than average may need smaller or larger breast shields to pump comfortably or effectively.

References

Thanaboonyawat I, Chanprapaph P, Lattalapkul J, et al. Pilot study of normal development of nipples during pregnancy. J Hum Lact. 2013 Nov;29(4):480-3
 
Zucca-Matthes G, Urban C, Vallejo A. Anatomy of the nipple and breast ducts. Gland Surg. 2016 Feb;5(1):32-6