A woman on TikTok said her nipple fell off while breastfeeding. A lactation consultant says this is rare but can happen.

Woman holding her baby up to breast feed against a sunny backdrop.
A lactation consultant says that while it's rare for a nipple to fall off while breastfeeding, it can happen when blood doesn't flow properly to the area.Maskot/ Getty Image
  • In 2022, a TikTok user shared a video in which she said her nipple fell off while breastfeeding.

  • A lactation consultant told Insider that while it's rare, it can happen because of poor blood flow.

  • The woman said that her nipple reattached and that she had no issue feeding her subsequent children.

In a TikTok video posted in October, a woman said that her nipple fell off and that she realized it as her son started choking on it.

In the 90-second video, the woman said she thought her baby had a great latch when she was 15 and had just given birth. She said that while her baby was gaining weight, she noticed her nipple was turning black at the base and white at the tip. Eventually, she said, her nipple broke off, and her baby had it in his mouth.

Many users who left comments were in disbelief, saying they didn't know this was even a possibility.

She experienced breastfeeding trauma

Chardá Bell, a lactation consultant and childbirth educator with Melanin Milk, identified the woman's experience as nipple vasospasm and necrosis. Bell said that while it's rare, it can happen among breastfeeding people.

When the nipple and its surrounding tissue don't get enough blood flow, some of the tissue can die. This tissue death is known as necrosis.

The TikTok user started her story by mentioning the pain she felt when she breastfed. That might have been the first indicator that something was amiss.

Bell said that while many breastfeeding people complain of breast pain, breastfeeding shouldn't cause pain or be painful. It can be difficult for new parents to distinguish between pain and discomfort in the early weeks according to Bell.

Another indicator of nipple trauma is a poor latch — something the woman said she began to experience. She added that she noticed her nipple was turning black at the bottom and white at the tip, describing it as a sign of bad blow flow.

Bell suggests learning and practicing proper positioning and deep latch techniques to help minimize or prevent nipple trauma.

When to seek help

To treat nipple or areola fissures, Bell recommends using clean or gloved hands to cleanse the nipple, blotting it with sterile gauze, allowing it to dry, then applying a bandage or cover to the area.

The woman said in the TikTok that she did something similar, cleaning the nipple, putting it back in place, and affixing it with a bandage.

The woman said a nurse told her that if the nipple was alive and had enough blood flow, it could reattach itself. But Bell said that anyone experiencing this should seek medical attention for proper assessment, reattachment, and observation for additional trauma or nerve damage.

How to breastfeed after nipple trauma

The woman said that while her nipple did reattach itself, her breastfeeding journey with that child ended that day. She said in a follow-up video that she breastfed three more children with no issues.

Bell recommended taking a break from nursing on one side if it becomes painful. Bell added that parents would still want to empty the breast of milk through gentle hand expression or with a hand pump and reintroduce latching after the nipple is healed.

Bell said that long-term nipple trauma could be harmful to a parent's breastfeeding goals and mental health. If it's left untreated, it could lead to recurrent plugged ducts or mastitis from less or incomplete emptying of the breasts, as well as other serious medical issues.

Read the original article on Insider