Using Nipple Shields While Breastfeeding

There are some situations when babies cannot drink milk appropriately while nursing. Although it's important to resolve the causes of this issue, in the meantime you can use nipple shields as an alternative.
Using Nipple Shields While Breastfeeding

Last update: 26 August, 2019

Breastfeeding is a miraculous process for mother and child to experience together. However, it isn’t free of complications. Using nipple shields while breastfeeding is one of the best options to mitigate possible issues. 

The important thing is first to determine the issue that is preventing your child from nursingOnce you know what it is, take the appropriate measures to resolve it.

The good new is that things have changed. The modern models are more skin-friendly and mold to the anatomy of each individual woman.

Silicone is a soft, thin material, with excellent moldability and adhesion. The design seeks to balance effectiveness and comfort for nipple shields.

When to use nipple shields while breastfeeding

Using these accessories and devices can be useful in the following situations, both for mother and baby:

Mother’s anatomical quirks, such as flat or inverted nipples

These are nipples which, even when erect, don’t protrude enough to allow for nursing. Alternately, they may retract in response to stimulus. To solve this problem, there are various options. One is, in fact, the use of nipple shields while breastfeeding.

Using Nipple Shields While Breastfeeding

Soft nipples

Nipples that are too soft are also not ideal for nursing. In this case, nipple shields are also helpful.

Anatomical quirks in the child, such as a lingual frenulum

This occurs when the child has a long frenulum under the tongue, which makes sucking difficult. In this case, the nipple shield helps the child to latch on better with the entire mouth to extract milk. 

The baby rejects the breast or struggles to nurse

Some babies refuse to nurse, and others find it difficult to do so for long periods. This can happen for no apparent reason. Nipple shields can help in these situations because of their perfect design and very anatomically compatible material.

Premature babies

Premature babies don’t have the strength to nurse. When the nipples are firmer, this presses against the baby’s mouth, giving them the appropriate stimulus.

“Stop using nipple shields once you have solved the underlying problem.”

During mixed nursing or if you need to make a change

For example, when it’s time to transition to using a bottle or from bottle to breast. There are circumstances related to the health of the mother or baby that force bottle feeding for a while. When you’re able to transition to nursing, the nipple shield can help with the change.

Cracked nipples

It’s important to first solve the problem that led to the nipple crackingNipple shields can provide temporary relief so you don’t have to stop breastfeeding. When your nipples are healed, you can start direct nursing again.

Using nipple shields correctly

Here are some things to keep in mind to get the best results from nipple shields when breastfeeding. They’ll help you to avoid additional problems:

  • Follow the directions. Usually nipple shields have two wings. Extend these when you attach the shield to create a vacuum around the areola and guarantee good adhesion. This will keep them on.
  • Use the correct size. This refers to your nipple, not your clothing size. If it’s too big or too small, it will move around.
  • Use good nursing posture. Both mother and baby should be in the recommended position for nursing, just like without the nipple shield.
  • Keep the nipple shields clean. Milk goes bad quickly and can become full of germs. Consequently, we recommend sterilizing your nipple shields frequently with soap and water.

When to stop using nipple shields

Stop using nipple shields when the underlying issue has been resolved. Regarding nutrition, take into account the weight and health of your baby to know if your baby is getting enough food.

If there is no reason to do so, don’t use nipple shields. They can be uncomfortable and interfere with nursing, which should happen in a completely natural way.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.