Search IconSearch

4 Things You Need To Know About Breastfeeding With Nipple Piercings

Removing the piercing as early as possible is important for avoiding complications

Parent breastfeeding their baby while sitting on the floor in their living room.

If you’ve had your nipples pierced and you’re pregnant or thinking about having kids, you may be wondering if your piercings are safe to wear while breastfeeding (chestfeeding). And can you leave them in for the duration of your pregnancy? Or do you have to take them out along the way?


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

People get their nipples pierced for a variety of reasons, but we don’t always think so far ahead about the complications they might cause. Pediatrician and breastfeeding medicine specialist Heidi Szugye, DO, IBCLC, answers four commonly asked questions about nipple piercings and breastfeeding.

1. Do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding?

Nipple piercings usually won’t have a direct impact on your ability to produce milk because the glandular tissues responsible for milk production sit behind your nipple.

But in some cases, a nipple piercing can damage or clog one of about nine milk ducts that allow milk to be expressed from your breast. When that happens, it can affect the flow of milk, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.

Nipple piercings can also increase your risk of developing mastitis (inflammation of the breast) or breast abscesses.

2. Do you need to remove piercings before nursing?

You should never breastfeed while wearing a nipple piercing because it could become a choking hazard for your baby if it’s ever dislodged. It could also make it harder for your baby to latch.

Plus, even if you don’t intend on breastfeeding but leave your piercings in during pregnancy, you run the risk of needing to have them surgically removed if your breast tissue grows around the piercing.

Because of these reasons, you should remove nipple piercings no later than the second trimester of pregnancy and as early as you discover that you’re pregnant.

“The nipples start going through changes as early as the first trimester, so I don’t see a reason to wait to take out the piercings,” advises Dr. Szugye. “The sooner you take them out, the better.”

If take out your piercings, you could always get them re-pierced down the line if you choose, but you’ll want to wait until you’ve moved beyond breastfeeding to have them pierced again.

3. Does milk come out of piercing holes?

Milk may come out of the piercing holes, but it’s usually not disruptive to the breastfeeding experience as long as your baby has a proper latch.

“If the baby has a proper, deep latch, they’re latching onto the areola and not just the little nipple itself,” explains Dr. Szugye. “The baby’s mouth should really cover where the piercing was, and it’s almost just like another hole.”

If you’re experiencing leakage when your baby isn’t feeding, you can use breast pads, or try hand-expressing your milk or using a pump and then storing your breast milk for later use.

If breast milk is coming out too fast during feedings, try changing your breastfeeding position to find one that adjusts your flow and allows your baby to feed more effectively.

4. When should you see a healthcare provider about issues with nipple piercings?

You should speak to a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:


A healthcare provider will be able to assess your situation, prescribe antibiotics for infections and offer additional advice like using cold or hot compresses to help with pain or swelling.

“When in doubt, it’s always best to ask your provider about any safety concerns related to breastfeeding your infant,” states Dr. Szugye.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

oatmeal cookies with chunk of chocolate on top
Do Lactation Cookies Work To Improve Milk Production?

If you’re not getting enough calories, these cookies may help — but a balanced diet is a better way to increase milk supply

Caregiver holding baby and picking up bottle of milk
July 18, 2024/Children's Health
A How-To Guide on Hand-Expressing Breast Milk

Hand expression follows a specific rhythmic pattern to trigger a breast milk let-down

Smiling female looking down at baby while the baby breast feeds
Relactation 101: How To Induce Lactation After You’ve Stopped

Relactation can reproduce breast milk after two to four weeks

Plate with beef, eggs, avocado, leafy greens and apricots, with multi-grain bread, walnuts, sweet potato and yogurt
July 11, 2024/Women's Health
What To Eat and Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding

A well-balanced diet of whole grains, salmon, leafy greens and more can help maintain energy and increase milk supply

Smiling older baby in high chair with baby utensil in mouth, eating with family
June 24, 2024/Children's Health
Baby-Led Weaning: What You Need To Know

Letting your baby feed themself foods the whole family enjoys has its benefits — but stick to softer foods and follow safe-eating guidelines

Caregiver feeding baby food to child in highchair
June 20, 2024/Children's Health
What To Know About Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Levels are generally low, but there are ways to minimize potential health risks

Female breast feeding baby
Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

An occasional drink is OK, and you can safely nurse your baby after the alcohol has left your breast milk

Woman breastfeeding baby on couch
How Long To Breastfeed: What the Guidelines Say and What To Consider

Recommendations encourage breast milk exclusively for baby’s first six months and continuing to provide human milk until age 2 and beyond

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims