Breast inversion occurs when your nipple no longer protrudes from your breast and is being held within your breast tissue, according to Breastfeeding Basics. While this can be a problem for mothers trying to breastfeed their children, inverted nipples can also be indicative of the development of breast cancer, writers at the breast cancer symptom page of 365 Health Online note. Because your symptoms may be a sign of a much more serious condition like cancer, you should always check with your doctor to find out whether your condition is the result of disease.
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The Pinch Test
Breast Feeding Basics notes that this test is an effective way to determine whether your nipples are inverting or are just flat. It is performed by grabbing your breast at the areola and pinching the sides of your areola against itself to force your nipple to stick out. Grab your areola with your thumb and forefinger and push in gently to enable you to pinch behind your nipple. If your nipple goes in further while you are performing this test it can be indicative that you have inverted nipples.
The Hoffman Technique
This exercise can be useful in helping to remove any impediments to your nipples protruding. You can perform the Hoffman technique by placing both of your thumbs at the base of your nipple and using a gentle motion to pull your thumbs away from each other. According to Mother and Child Health, you can repeat this exercise two times a day at the beginning, and slowly work up to five times daily. The website notes that this exercise can be a helpful way to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding, and can be done while in the latter stages of your pregnancy.
By stimulating your nipples prior to breastfeeding, you can force them to protrude unless they are completely inverted. Stimulation techniques include grabbing your nipple with your thumb and forefinger and using a rolling motion to stimulate it to erection by twisting it between your fingers for about 30 seconds. This should be followed by applying a cold, wet cloth to your nipples to further help stimulate erection, according to Breastfeeding Basics.