Preparation for Breastfeeding
When nearing the end of the pregnancy you can gently help your nipples to protrude into position for breastfeeding by simply pinching gently below the nipple with the forefinger and thumb. Then, holding onto the nipple, gently pull it out and turn it up and then down. Do this exercise several times with both nipples. If it is uncomfortable, be gentler as you perform the exercise. Gradually increase the number of exercises each day.
Avoid anything that is drying to the skin around the nipples, especially soap.
If possible, go bra-less for a certain portion of each day to allow the natural friction of your clothing, fresh air and sunlight to slightly toughen your nipples for breastfeeding.
The only washing that nipples need, even when breastfeeding, is your daily shower or bath. Spread some of your breast milk over the nipples after each feed. The milk has anti-septic properties as well as helping the nipple to stay moist, preventing them from drying and developing cracks.
Flat or Inverted nipples:
If you try the above nipple pulls and you find that your nipples react by retracting, then you may have inverted nipples. This is not uncommon in women who haven’t breastfed before. An effective technique for encouraging the nipple to protrude is the “Hoffman technique”. Draw an imaginary cross on the nipple. Place a thumb on each side of the nipple along one line of the cross, your thumbs should be directly at the base of the nipple, not the edge of the areola. Press in firmly against the breast tissue and pull the thumbs away from each other. You’ll be stretching out the nipple and loosening the tightness at the base, allowing the nipple to move up and outward. Dr. Hoffman recommends that you do this stretch five times in the morning along each line of your imaginary cross. This preparatory step makes it easier for you to grasp the nipple and do the pulling motion.