I had nipple piercings in college for about a year (oy, what a phase). I’m now 34, and my husband and I are thinking about trying to conceive. I’m worried I won’t be able to breastfeed because of my past piercings. Everything I’ve read online is fairly ambiguous, like “maybe you will be able to, maybe you won’t!” Any data on this?—Aly Kay
The literature on breastfeeding with nipple piercing is, as you say, incomplete and (for obvious reasons) not randomized. It also tends to focus on people with current piercings, where a significant issue is the possible interference of the piercing with a child’s ability to latch, and also leakage.
In your case, where the piercings are in the past, the possible issues relate to scar tissue. This is a smaller version of what comes up if you’ve had a breast reduction or augmentation. Scar tissue could impede nursing, but it may well not. If it does, it isn’t likely to be an all-or-nothing thing — your milk supply could be slightly lower, for example.
Most of the (basically anecdotal) literature on this would suggest that it is extremely likely that it will be totally fine. It’s a small amount of scar tissue relative to other breast surgery. But in the end, you cannot fully resolve this uncertainty until the baby arrives.