The Problem

When breastfeeding, you're supposed to alternate which breast you start with. At night, when the gap between feedings is relatively long, it's not hard to tell which one has more milk in it. Picture having a satsuma on one side and a grapefruit on the other. Not challenging.

During the day, it's a bit harder. Less time between feedings means less milk in each breast. I can always check, but groping your own breasts in public is frowned upon in our society.

(Remember which one? Did someone suggest remembering which breast I used last? Like, in my brain? You don't know many new parents, do you?)

The Solution

I have five ear piercings, three in the right ear and two in the left (hangovers from the adolescent passion for self-adornment). I generally wear just one pair of earrings now. So I've started wearing a marker earring in the upper holes - just a black stud earring, nothing fancy or eye-catching.

Consistency buffs - you know, the ones who notice that Luke Skywalker called Princess Leia "Carrie" at the end of Star Wars - might note that the earring switches sides every 3 or 4 hours. No one else would - they all look at the baby.

Less pierced people could probably just use an ear cuff, a bracelet, or a ring. But if you got it, flaunt it.

And now, by popular request, information on breastfeeding with pierced nipples. This is the concensus of several websites' advice.

Older-fashioned doctors may feel that nipple piercings preclude the possibility of breastfeeding, but there is no evidence to support this blanket assertion. Unless the piercing has resulted in sufficient scarring to block the milk ducts (this is rare), mothers with nipple piercings should be able to breastfeed as normal.

The big debate is over whether to remove nipple rings before breastfeeding or leave them in.

The case for removal
  1. The nipple rings may impede latching on.
  2. The metal in the nipple rings may injure the inside of the baby's mouth.
  3. The nipple ring may become detatched and the baby may swallow or choke on it.
The case for leaving in
  1. The milk may leak out of the piercing holes. Depending on location, this could impede feeding.
  2. Removal and replacement of nipple rings for every feeding is a pain
  3. The argument about babies choking on nipple rings is alarmist - there is no record of this ever occurring. Any swallowed rings can be sterilised when they come out the other end.

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