what is elastic nipples breastfeeding

What is Elastic Nipples Breastfeeding? The Impact on Breastfeeding and Pumping

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Hello nursing moms! As a fellow mom and paramedic with two children whom I breastfed for over a year each, I know that the breastfeeding journey is not always smooth.

Today, I want to address a topic that may not be widely discussed but can affect many of us: elastic nipples.

You may have asked yourself ‘What is elastic nipples breastfeeding?’ and struggled to find answers!

Elastic nipples are exactly what they sound like – they’re nipples that stretch more than usual when your baby latches on or when you’re pumping. Having elastic nipples is not a problem in and of itself, but it can cause some challenges when breastfeeding or pumping.

While breastfeeding, nipples usually stretch to accommodate the baby’s mouth and produce the proper latch for drawing out milk. However, some women may also experience pain from elastic nipples when pumping breast milk.

Elastic nipple tissue may make it difficult for the breast pump to create a proper seal, leading to decreased milk flow and discomfort.

What are elastic nipples breastfeeding?

Elastic nipples definition

Elastic nipples are nipples that stretch more than the expected amount when breastfeeding or pumping. This can cause the nipple to become elongated making it difficult for the baby to latch on properly.

When pumping elastic nipples can mean that too much areola is pulled into the flange tunnel.

It is important to note that some stretch in the nipple is normal, but excessive stretching of elastic nipple tissue is not.

Causes of elastic nipples

There are several causes of elastic nipples, including:

  • Using the wrong size breast pump flange – If the flange is too small, it can cause the nipple to stretch excessively. On the other hand, if the flange is too large, it can cause the nipple to rub against the end of the flange or sides, leading to pain and discomfort.

  • Overusing a breast pump

  • Engorgement

  • Poor latch

  • Nipple trauma

  • Genetics – some women are predisposed to having more elastic nipples than others.

Breastfeeding and pumping with elastic nipples

How elastic nipples affect breastfeeding and pumping

  1. Excessive stretching of the nipple can lead to painful swelling, bruising, and even nipple trauma.

  2. Elastic nipples can impact milk supply by compressing milk ducts and suppressing oxytocin production, resulting in a slow or inefficient milk ejection response. This problem can lead to a decreased milk output, making it harder for babies to get the nutrition they need.

  3. Elastic nipples can make it difficult to achieve a proper latch. The nipple may flatten or invert, making it harder for the baby to grasp and causing frustration for both mom and baby.

  4. The vacuum strength of the pump can cause the nipples to stretch too much. This stretching can be uncomfortable, and in some cases, it can even cause the nipples to swell inside the baby’s mouth or at the end of the flange (the flange is the part of the breast pump that fits over your breast). If you’re not using the correct flange size, the problem can be exacerbated.

Tips for breastfeeding and pumping with elastic nipples

But what can you do if you have elastic nipples? Don’t worry, there are plenty of solutions out there!

Choose the correct flange size


First, it’s crucial to ensure you’re using the correct flange size. Check out healthline.com’s flange sizing guide here to help you find the correct size and right fit. The manufacturer of your pump should also provide a guide for ensuring you choose the right size for you.

Using the wrong flange size can cause too much areola to be pulled into the flange tunnel, leading to painful swelling and potentially causing more nipple damage. A flange that is too small could also compress milk ducts leading to decreased milk supply.

Adjust pump settings

Experiment with different vacuum strengths and cycle speeds to find the settings that work best for your nipples to avoid pain and nipple damage.

Use lubrication

Coconut oil is another great tool to have in your breastfeeding arsenal. Applying a bit of coconut oil to your nipples before pumping can help reduce friction and make the pumping session more comfortable.

Use breast pump cushions

Pump cushions like Beaugen breast pump cushions can help improve comfort and fit, especially for moms with flat or inverted nipples. These silicone inserts fit inside your flange and provide a softer surface for your breast tissue. They attach directly to the skin, creating a barrier between your nipples and the plastic flange of your pump. They can help reduce the stretch and discomfort that comes with having very elastic nipples. Find a link here.

BeauGen Cushion
BeauGen Cushion

You might also consider trying silicone flanges. The silicone material is softer and more forgiving than standard flanges. Pumpin Pal is one brand that offers these.

Check the backflow protector

A crucial component of your breast pump is the backflow protector. This part prevents breast milk from flowing back into the pump motor, which is particularly important when you have elastic nipples.

The stretching and pulling can sometimes cause milk to flow in the wrong direction. Regularly check and replace your backflow protector as part of your pump maintenance to ensure its effectiveness.

Hand express

Hand expressing is another technique that can be helpful, especially if you’re dealing with low milk supply. By applying gentle pressure to the breast tissue, you can help stimulate more milk production and make your pumping sessions more effective.

Skin care

It’s essential to care for your skin and areola. The stretching and suction can be tough on your skin so in terms of pain management, consider applying a cool compress post-feeding or pumping session. The coolness can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.

It’s also a good idea to keep your skin hydrated and supple. Regular application of good nipple cream can help soothe the skin and alleviate discomfort from nipple stretching too.

Seek consultation

One of the best ways to get help with elastic nipples is to consult with a lactation consultant. These professionals can help you identify the root cause of your condition and provide you with personalized advice on how to manage it. They can also help you find the right flange tunnel size for your pump, which can make a big difference in your comfort level while pumping.

Wean gradually

Gradually reducing breastfeeding or pumping sessions can help prevent clogged milk ducts and other problems associated with sudden weaning.


what is elastic nipples breastfeeding

To all the mothers reading this, I understand that each one of you is unique in your own way. As a mom of 2 and breastfeeding counselor, I know that your body, your baby, and your breastfeeding journey are all distinctively yours.

As a part of this journey, you might encounter the phenomenon of elastic nipples, which stretch significantly during breastfeeding or pumping. This stretching can be due to the elasticity of your nipple tissue, a natural and normal part of your body’s makeup.

Experiencing discomfort due to elastic nipples causing pain during pumping is a shared concern among many mothers. It’s a common issue, and you’re not alone in this. But, please remember, this doesn’t spell the end of your breastfeeding or pumping journey!

Breastfeeding and pumping can be a rollercoaster ride, filled with its own set of unique challenges. However, these obstacles don’t diminish the immense worth of the journey. The pain is temporary, but the bond you’re fostering with your baby is everlasting.

There are strategies to manage the discomfort caused by elastic nipples while pumping. You can try using a breast pump with softer silicone flanges, adjusting the suction strength, and ensuring your pump flanges are of the right size.

In case you need help or guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. It could be to a lactation consultant, a fellow mom, or even through this blog. After all, we are all in this together, navigating the wonderful yet sometimes challenging path of motherhood. Stay strong, dear moms. You’re doing a remarkable job!

Remember, you’re not just providing nourishment to your baby; you’re also creating a bond filled with love and care. So, keep moving forward in your breastfeeding journey, and know that you’re doing great!

Further reading:

Breastfeeding vs Exclusive Pumping: Which is Right for You?

The best wearable breast pumps of 2023: Express milk anywhere, anytime

The 6 Best Smart Breast Pumps for Busy Moms in 2023

How to Increase Milk Supply Quickly: Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding Moms

The 5 best protein powders for breastfeeding moms


Have Questions? I Have Answers.

Elastic nipples are nipples that stretch more than the expected amount when breastfeeding or pumping.

Nipple elasticity should not hugely affect breastfeeding along as the baby can latch properly.

When pumping with elastic nipples lubricate your nipples, use a silicone flange and consult a lactation consultant.

Elastic tissue nipples refer to nipples with more elastic fibers, allowing for greater flexibility.

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