Breastfeeding nightmare: Can your nipple fall off while feeding your child?

A few women claimed that their nipples fell off during breastfeeding. But can that really happen? Let's find out what experts have to say.
Nipple sores during breastfeeding
Find out how breastfeeding can affect you nipples. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:35 pm IST
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Many people make several claims related to beauty, fitness and health on social media. But they aren’t always true, so you can’t blindly believe them. In the last few months, at least two new mums claimed that their nipple fell off during breastfeeding. One young mother named Brooke took to social media to explain how her nipple went “black at the base, and white at the tip” while breastfeeding her son. Later on, she noticed that her nipple had broken off. Another social media user Jasmine Chiswell had shared that the tip of her nipple was hanging off after breastfeeding her child. So, it made us wonder if the nipple can actually fall off while breastfeeding?

Health Shots consulted Dr Bhavna S Mehta, Senior Consultant – Obstetrician-gynecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai and Dr Madhu Juneja, Senior Consultant – Obstetrician-gynecologist, Cloudnine Group Of Hospitals, Kalyani Nagar, Pune, to find out if it’s even possible to lose your nipple during breastfeeding.

nipple falls off breastfeeding
Can nipple fall off during breastfeeding? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Nipple falling off while breastfeeding

Dr Mehta says that nipple can crack and then peel off. She notes that the mother should have identified the changes in her nipple during the crack stage. Feeding with peeled skin or cracked nipple will be too painful. So, if the mother had been feeding with a cracked nipple, resulting in the nipple being peeled off, it denotes a sensory variation in her. The expert says that having sensory variation, not feeling pain and continuing to feed with wrong feeding technique may have lead to nipple falling off while breastfeeding. Dr Juneja says nipple fissure or cracks are a common and routine issue that women face during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These cracks cause pain, discomfort and infection at times if not cared for.

Pain while breastfeeding

While breastfeeding, a mother will feel the sucking by her baby. If it’s hypersensitive or painful, they should contact their doctor. Pain during breastfeeding can be due to various reasons:

• In a first-time mother, nipple sensitivity is present in the initial 5 days.
• Improper latching techniques will create friction on nipples.
• Thrush condition can create pain.
• Baby with tongue-tie and lip-tie creates pain in nipples.
• Sudden pull and release of breast by the baby leads to pain and crack in case of dry skin of mother.

nipple fall off breastfeeding
Poor latching can make your nipples crack. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Breastfeeding and nipple fissure

Poor latching during breastfeeding can cause nipple fissures, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. Soap can also dry out the skin leading to nipple fissure, says Dr Juneja. Pregnancy means experiencing hormonal changes without a doubt. That makes nipples sore and tender, so they become extra sensitive. These changes make the nipples more prone to crack.

Sometimes, home remedies may be enough to alleviate the symptoms. You can apply ghee or nipple moisturisers or use warm compresses to soothe the area. You just have to dip a washcloth in warm water and squeeze out the excess water. Then place the cloth on your nipple for a few minutes and pat dry afterwards. You can adjust breastfeeding positions or use nipple shields to avoid irritation as well. But if they don’t heal, go and see a doctor.

Preventing nipple cracks may be challenging for a new mom, but they can practise good breastfeeding technique, ensure proper latch and switching positions. They should keep their nipples moisturised with cream, wearing good fitting bra during pregnancy and lactation and get treatment if there is any skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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