Unless you're a celebrity on the cover of Us Weekly, you've probably figured out by now that your body changes after pregnancy. But if you choose to breastfeed, you may be dealing with even more than the usual stretch marks. You may find that your breasts look different after nursing a baby and wonder if breastfeeding can make your nipples bigger, darker, or stretched out.
If you've ever noticed that your nipples look a little different after nursing or pumping, you're not alone. A quick Google search will pull up dozens of pregnancy and mom forums where women are asking the same questions about their nipples. Do they remain stretched out? Will they stay swollen? Is there something wrong with their nipples if they seem bigger after breastfeeding?
Your breasts most likely went through some changes during pregnancy, even if you never intended to breastfeed. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the pregnancy hormones flooding your body, along with your breasts' preparation for a hungry baby, can lead to your areolas darkening, and your nipples growing larger and sticking out more than usual. Parents noted that this nipple growth is the result of hormones and it occurs so that your baby has an easier time latching on in order to breastfeed. Pretty amazing, right? They may even become more defined and seem to take on a more prominent shape than before, rather than simply increasing in size.
So does breastfeeding make your nipples bigger? Not exactly. Biology and the amazing journey that is pregnancy really took care of that for you. You may find that your nipples look a little stretched out immediately after nursing your baby, but this is because your child has latched on. In fact, La Leche League International suggested that mothers with flat or inverted nipples pump for several minutes before nursing in order to make their nipple more prominent for baby to latch on to. And, because every woman is different, you may find that your nipples never go back to their original size after pregnancy. Totally normal. Medela notes, however, that if your nipple shape has completely changed after nursing, you might have a latch issue. If your nipple draws to a point, resembling a new lipstick, or has creases, you might want to reach out to a lactation consultant to fix your baby's latch.