Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding is something that a large percentage of the population are likely to do at some point in their lives. It is for this reason that we felt it was important to make our stance on piercing clients who are breastfeeding/Chestfeeding very clear. For the purpose of this article, we will continue to use the term ‘breastfeeding’ in line with the references that we have included, but this information does of course include any trans men or non-binary folk who are chestfeeding their baby.
Rules around breastfeeding are going to vary from studio to studio, but our standpoint is that there is no harm in being pierced whilst you are breastfeeding (except for nipples*).
We recommend that you are at least 3-6 months post-partum and/or that your milk is no longer the baby’s main source of nutrition and they’re eating some solid food. The reasoning behind this is that your body is working hard to recover post-pregnancy and birth, and producing milk is a large undertaking for the body. Your body is still doing a lot right after your baby is born and we don’t advise adding the extra task of healing a piercing too soon! Furthermore, you may experience low vitamin and mineral levels immediately post-partum (especially low iron levels) and it’s important to make sure that your body is feeling fit and healthy before it has a new piercing to heal.
One common misconception is that if something goes wrong and an infection develops in your new piercing, this may be passed through your milk to the baby. We are pleased to tell you that this is highly unlikely! This quote from Lawrence in his paper Breast Milk and Infection confirms this:
“In most maternal viral infections, breast milk is not an important mode of transmission, and continuation of breastfeeding is in the best interest of the infant and mother. Maternal bacterial infections are rarely complicated by transmission of infection to their breast milk. In a few situations, temporary cessation of breastfeeding or the avoidance of breast milk is appropriate for a limited time.”
Lawrence goes on to explain that this ‘temporary cessation’ of breastfeeding would most likely be for around 24 hours for many of the bacterial infections that could potentially (though vary rarely) occur due to piercing. It is for this reason that we do suggest waiting to be pierced until the breast milk is no longer the baby’s only source of nutrition.
*We recommend that you wait until 3-4 months after weaning before you have your nipples pierced. This is supported by La Leche League International who explain:
“It is suggested that mothers wait until 3-4 months after weaning before getting nipple piercings as hormonal changes due to breastfeeding can affect the healing process.”
We also suggest that you remove the jewellery in existing (healed) nipple piercings when you breastfeed as the jewellery could potentially cause a choking hazard or make the baby unable to latch on properly.
It is important to note that although this is our standpoint as an organisation, this isn’t listed in our code of conduct that our members must follow, so you may find that some studios have stricter rules around breastfeeding in the same way that some studios will not offer certain piercing placements or jewellery styles. We always advise that our members work within the guidelines set out by their insurance company. This may mean that some studios simply aren’t insured to offer this service.
We hope that this information is helpful. If you have any questions about this article, please direct them to our Public Outreach board member at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Lawrence, RM et al, (2004), Breast Milk and Infection, Clin Perinatol, (2022) <https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fpubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2F15325535%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1GUo9clMPX5guTma-2ba1Mji8i5tys5DdOiD08K7JI17T9mSPMRpUnDWE%23%3A~%3Atext%3DIn%2520most%2520maternal%2520viral%2520infections%2Ctheir%2520infants%2520through%2520breast%2520milk&h=AT0jq9wQJkYg14YadL5g7FUC0mzpWIG_Gi6m7KSzbkot4e0xWvpWcTF4S4cTxQuQ4Ki3vOC0e9Z7zFMSosgHP-SK8akctzNSGFVQeo5d1tjuCDjrGwDyFKc5mRQAzpKYK_Q>  La Leche League International, (2022), Nipple Piercings, La Leche League International, (2022) <https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.llli.org%2Fbreastfeeding-info%2Fnipple-piercings%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR3JdQj-TxxXlBP4R-eAM_wGBcMsFmVewl4jUgLvNDqeg0mxAZWhIBcs0u8&h=AT0jq9wQJkYg14YadL5g7FUC0mzpWIG_Gi6m7KSzbkot4e0xWvpWcTF4S4cTxQuQ4Ki3vOC0e9Z7zFMSosgHP-SK8akctzNSGFVQeo5d1tjuCDjrGwDyFKc5mRQAzpKYK_Q>