In the pregnancy and the birthing world, nipples refer to the protruding part of the breast that becomes enlarged and firm during pregnancy in preparation for breastfeeding. Its color also turns into a darker shade. These changes are due to the increasing amount of estrogen and progesterone in the pregnant woman’s body and usually start to happen during the 16th week of pregnancy.
After childbirth, during breastfeeding, the nipples become the entryway for milk to flow from the breast into the baby’s mouth. The baby latches onto the nipple and breastfeeding begins. Moreover, while the baby is latching, the pores of the nipples act as a passageway for the baby’s saliva, which then interacts with the mother’s breastmilk and signals the body of the mother to adjust breastmilk composition, especially the immunological composition, to cater to the baby’s need.
There are different types of nipples. The most common is the standard nipples, which have a medium size and are slightly curved. There are also flat nipples and inverted nipples. Inverted nipples can be due to a variety of reasons such as anatomical problems, or genetic factors. It is still possible to breastfeed even if the nipples do not have a standard shape, albeit with some assistance and intervention.
The term “nipples” can also be used more generally to refer to the entire breast, not just the protruding part. In breastfeeding support groups and forums, for example, breastfeeding mothers often ask for help with sore nipples. This is because breastfeeding can be quite challenging in the beginning, and there is a lot to learn about how to do it correctly. But with practice and support, it becomes easier.
The nipples may become sore and cracked if they are not treated properly. Sore nipples can be quite painful and breastfeeding can be very uncomfortable. It is important to keep the nipples moist and lubricated during breastfeeding and to make sure that the baby is latched on correctly. There are a variety of nipple ointments and creams available over the counter that can help to soothe sore nipples.
Other Related Terms
These are some synonyms or closely related terms to nipples:
- breastfeeding support groups
- breastfeeding forums
This image shows how often the term ‘Nipples’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:
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