Our clinic has found that most mothers who have had one or both nipples pierced can breastfeed without problems. We estimate that one in ten mothers have major problems.
Once removed, piercings generally do not generally affect nipple sensitivity and do not increase nipple pain while breastfeeding.
1) Poor breast emptying
A piercing may cut or scar the milk ducts, which carry milk from the milk tissue in the breast to the openings in the nipple.
The inability of the milk to leave the breast can result in the baby not taking in enough milk during the first weeks after birth and in the long term. The mother may also develop plugged ducts (Garbin 2009).
2) Damage of the nipple root
Piercing may scar the nipple root, making it less able to stretch. This abnormality, which can cause latching problems, may be identified by a pinch test before the baby is born. Some mothers have scarring in the nipple that leaves a small, hard lump. This too can make it hard for the baby to latch.
3) Effect of complications
The risk of damage to the milk ducts and scarring increases if the piercings:
- Resulted in infection.
- Caused an allergic reaction.
- Tore the piercing tract when accidentally ripped out.
4) Leaking from the piercing holes
Old piercings often leak small amounts of milk. This does not affect the amount of milk the baby gets, but it can be bothersome and will require the use of breast pads.