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Swollen Nipples in a Newborn

author image Marcy Reed
Marcy Reed has been a certified nurse midwife since 2004 and a writer since 2007. She has been published in "Midwifery Today." Reed earned a bachelor's degree in nursing in California and received her midwifery education in Kentucky.
Swollen Nipples in a Newborn
A newborn baby lays on its back in hopsital. Photo Credit TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images

Newborn babies have several unique characteristics that may surprise their parents. Because newborns have been recently exposed to a variety of hormones from their mothers, they may have swollen nipples or even release some milk from the nipples. This can occur in baby girls and baby boys and is a normal finding in newborns. The swollen nipples typically resolve after a few months, according to Medline Plus.

Newborn Appearance

Newborn babies rarely have the cherubic appearance of television babies. In fact, most newborns are wrinkled, covered with white vernix and have cone heads. As a new parent, you may be concerned about your baby's appearance, but these characteristics resolve over time. As you look over your new baby, you may notice that your baby's breasts may be lumpy or swollen.


Pregnant women typically notice breast changes throughout pregnancy, particularly in the final days of pregnancy. These changes prepare her body for breastfeeding. Some changes include breast enlargement, nipple tenderness and leaking of colostrum, which is the first type of milk a new mother makes. These changes are triggered by hormones that travel throughout her bloodstream, through the placenta and to the baby via the umbilical cord.

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Newborn Nipples

Newborn nipples may look enlarged and may appear to have a lump in the breast tissue. Occasionally, a newborn with swollen nipples will even secrete a little bit of milk from the nipples. This milk is sometimes called "witch's milk" and occurs in approximately 5 percent of newborns, according to "Consultant for Pediatricians."


Because swollen nipples in newborns is normal, you should simply leave them alone. They should resolve within a couple of months. Breastfed babies with witch's milk may secrete the milk longer than formula babies. This is normal and not a reason to wean your baby. Avoid massaging or handling your baby's nipples other than gently washing them during bathing. Vigorous massage can cause bacteria to enter the nipples and trigger a breast infection.

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