Breastfeeding With A Nipple Shield

Information And Tips

Breastfeeding With A Nipple Shield
Nipple Shield. Harmid/Wikimedia

What Is A Nipple Shield?

A nipple shield is a breastfeeding aid that is used in special situations. It's a very thin, soft piece of rubber or silicone that covers the areola and nipple. A small opening at the tip of the nipple area allows breast milk to flow from your breast, through the shield, and to your baby.

When Is A Nipple Shield Useful?

Latch On Difficulties: A nipple shield is sometimes used to help newborns who have a very difficult time latching on.

Premature Babies: Some preemies do well with a small sized nipple shield when they are learning to latch on. It takes much less of a preemie's precious energy to keep a nipple shield in their mouth.  As they grow, they can be weaned from the shield and begin nursing on the bare breast.

Tongue-Tied Infants: Babies born with ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, may have trouble latching on to the breast. If a baby cannot latch on correctly, he may not be able to get enough breast milk and gain weight well. A poor latch from a tongue-tie can also cause painful, sore nipples. A nipple shield may be helpful in this situation.

Flat, Retracted, or Inverted Nipples: Nipple shields may help to draw out flat, retracted, or inverted nipples making it easier for a baby to latch on to the breast.

Sore Nipples: A breast shield can protect sore nipples. If it's too painful to breastfeed because you have sore, cracked nipples, a nipple shield may help to make it feel more comfortable.

Going From The Bottle To The Breast: Adopted babies or infants who have become used to a bottle may take to breastfeeding more easily with a nipple shield.

7 Tips For Breastfeeding With A Nipple Shield

  1. Nipple shields are usually used as a last resort. They should only be worn under the supervision of a physician, lactation consultant or other person who is experienced with this device. If not used properly, a nipple shield could negatively affect breastfeeding. The improper use of a nipple shield could lead to a low breast milk supply, weight loss in your baby, and breast issues.
  1. It is important to wear a nipple shield that is the correct size. A nipple shield that does not fit properly may block the flow of milk from your breasts.
  2. While using a nipple shield, you need to make sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk. Keep track of your baby's wet diapers and take your baby to the pediatrician to monitor his or her weight.
  3. Your baby can become accustomed to breastfeeding with a nipple shield and may be unwilling or unable to nurse without it. If you need to use a nipple shield very often, you may have to wean your child from the shield.
  4. Nipple shields should not be worn for the entire feeding unless your health care provider has instructed you to do so. Once your baby begins nursing with the shield, let the baby nurse on it for a minute or two. Then, remove it and try to get your child to latch on to your breast without it.
  5. Breastfeeding with a breast shield could prevent the full emptying of your breasts. It's important to drain your breasts of breast milk in order to build or maintain your milk supply and prevent some of the common problems of breastfeeding such as breast engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. After using a nipple shield, you can use a breast pump to remove the remaining milk.
  1. Nipple shields are not the same as breast shells. A nipple shield covers the areola and the nipple, but a breast shell covers the areola and allows the nipple to protrude through. Nipple shields are worn while you're breastfeeding, but breast shells should never be worn while you're nursing.  



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