Do I Need to Prepare My Nipples for Breastfeeding?

Planning to breastfeed? Find out if there's anything you should be doing to prepare your breasts for the job ahead.
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ByJeanne Cygnus, IBCLC, RLC
Lactation Specialist
May 2019
pregnant woman with her hands on her belly wearing a pink dress
Photo: Irina Murza

Wondering if you need to ready your nipples for breastfeeding? Nope—your body is already doing everything it needs to prep.

You may notice during pregnancy that the areola around your nipple becomes a bit darker, and sometimes the nipple itself seems to change in texture. These changes are hormonal responses to your pregnancy and help to prepare your nipples for feeding. Some products on the market claim to prep nipples, but there’s no need to use any of them—there isn’t even any clear advantage to using them.

In the past, mothers were encouraged to " toughen up" their nipples before birth by rubbing them with towels or a loofah (ouch). The good news is that this is absolutely unnecessary. In fact, your nipples are supposed to be soft and comfortable in baby’s mouth—not “toughened up.”

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