Does nipple size affect whether or not you can breastfeed?

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Women’s nipples come in all shapes and sizes, but does that matter when it comes to breastfeeding?

Worried about the complications that come with breastfeeding? Some regular concerns that crop up with mothers-to-be include sore nipples, tongue-tie, and whether you’re able to express enough milk for your baby.

But does nipple size come into it? Apparently not, according to new research from The University of Queensland; it turns out that both big and little nipples are equally good for breastfeeding, and there is no evolutionary advantage to having either.

Nipple size isn’t everything

The research from the university involved studying the nipples and measuring the chests of 63 male and female volunteers. And as well as confirming that nipple size does not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed, the study also found that men’s nipples are on average 36% smaller than women’s.

“We found that female nipples were significantly more variable than male nipples,” said Ashleigh Kelly, the study’s lead author. “And the finding that females nipples are highly variable discredits previous studies that indicate variation in a specific feature indicates a lack of functionality.”

Read more: Breastfeeding – the most common questions

Previous studies have suggested that your baby might find it difficult to latch on if you have bigger nipples, but it turns out this is not actually the case. You need not worry if you have flat or inverted nipples either.

Breastfeeding is still possible if you’ve had a nipple piercing, but you must make sure your piercing has fully healed and that you remove any jewellery before feeding. However, some common complications with pierced nipples include infections, leaking from the piercing site, blocked ducts and reduced milk supply.

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