Will nipple piercings impact breastfeeding? In my experience, the majority of people who’ve had a piercing will have absolutely ZERO issues with breastfeeding. But every body is different in how it reacts to taking out the jewelry out prior to breastfeeding. Just like with pierced ears, occasionally the hole left by jewelry will scar closed, or partially closed, which can inhibit milk from coming out certain nipple pores. Often, the longer the time since the piercings were initially placed the better the outcome as the nipple has had time to properly heal. Other concerns may include nerve damage (the piercing happened to go through right at the nerve and damages it) that impacts milk let down or extra holes created by the piercings that lead to milk coming out of unexpected places! I have (rarely) seen mastitis and abscesses from previous nipple piercings, but that is NOT common.
Breastfeeding with the nipple jewelry in place is never recommended as it can make it difficult for the infant to latch-on correctly, increases the risk of choking on loose or dislodged jewelry, and can damage the inside of the baby’s mouth. If you are going to take your jewelry in and out every feeding, make sure you are being extremely careful with hand washing and jewelry sanitizing to reduce the risk of infection. Best practice says take the piercings out for the entirety of your breastfeeding journey. Laid back breastfeeding positions and extra nursing pads to catch the excess milk can help. You may also need to find which direction your baby needs to face if you notice leaking milk from additional holes created by the piercing if they are not in baby’s mouth. Many women go on to breastfeed successfully with a history of pierced nipples, but if you’re having any problems or have concerns, see an IBCLC lactation consultant.