Can nursing cause droopy nipples?

My husband and I are planning to have a second child very soon. Although I did not nurse my first baby, I would like to this time. I have saline breast implants, which, at the time of surgery, were inserted through a half-moon incision on the outside edge of my areola. The implant was then inserted behind the chest wall muscle away from my breast tissue. I spoke to the surgeon about breastfeeding and he said that it was certainly possible, however, some nursing mothers (even ones without implants) can develop "droopy" nipples after breastfeeding. Is this true?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It's wonderful that you're thinking about nursing your baby-to-be! Pregnancy, not breastfeeding causes breast changes in women.

I have never heard of, or seen anyone who had developed "droopy nipples" from nursing their baby. Sometimes a woman who has flat or inverted nipples will find that breastfeeding draws out her nipples, so that they extend. Most women seem to be happy with this change.

You can nurse your baby if you have had breast surgery. You mentioned that your incision is located on the outside of your areola. When an incision is placed near the areola, rather than under the breast fold, or near the armpit, there is a good chance that milk ducts and nerves have been severed. This may limit your ability to produce milk (Neifert 1990). Even though your milk supply may have been impacted by the surgery, you and your baby can still enjoy the intimacy that breastfeeding provides. A nursing supplementer can be used at your breast to fulfill your baby's nutritional needs. I would recommend working with an IBCLC in your area, to help you evaluate your milk supply in the early days of breastfeeding, and decide on a method of supplementation if it does become necessary. (When you have had breast surgery, it is important to keep an eye on your baby's pattern of output and weight gain, even after breastfeeding appears to be well established.)

A woman's breasts (and body) will change with each pregnancy, and as she ages. Standards of beauty are individual and also change with time. Though I understand you are concerned about the work your surgeon has done on your breasts, their appearance will change over time.

When talking with your surgeon again, you might ask him to share his references regarding "droopy nipples" and breastfeeding with you. Enjoy your new baby!

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