Until recently, the option to breastfeed after birth was not offered to women with nipple piercings. While there may have been assumed implications to breastfeeding when pierced, limited documentation exists.
Now, there exist organizations that promote breast-feeding for those women and teach nurses how to deal with them on an individual basis. “The challenge for perinatal nurses becomes how to intervene to maximize opportunities for breastfeeding success in women with nipple piercings,” says Dr. Armstrong. While nurses are now encouraged to offer breastfeeding as an option, there are still reservations regarding the results.
In the past, breastfeeding supporters have said it is safe for pierced women to breastfeed, but noted there could be serious risks involved in doing so. Infants can aspirate on the jewelry and the metal of the jewelry can cause trauma to an infant’s lips, palate, tongue and gums, according to an article in the June/July issue of AWHONN Lifelines presenting findings from research about women’s breastfeeding success when the nipple is pierced.
“Careful history taking and physical assessment of the breasts at time affords the opportunity for nurses to provide pierced women with factual information about nipple piercing and breastfeeding,” says lead author Myrna L. Armstrong. By considering the piercing as an integral part of the breastfeeding decision process, prenatal nurses can help foster breastfeeding success.
This study is published in the journal AWHONN Lifelines.
Dr. Myrna L. Armstrong, EdD, RN, FAAN, is a professor in the Health Sciences Center School of Nursing at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. She has been involved in a program of research with patient education examining various elements of body art since 1990.
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD