Nipple Shields: Good or Bad?

What are nipple shields?

A nipple shield is a kind of silicone material that a mother can use when they have difficulty in trying to get their baby to latch onto them. A nipple shield can come in a variety of sizes and shapes – most are round but others can be semi-triangular and they can also depend on the nipple size.

Can a nipple shield affect milk supply?

Unfortunately, yes. If a mother does not use the shield in the proper way or position, a nipple shield may actually hinder the baby from getting more milk in the process. This is because the nipple shield is basically, well, a shield – it does act as an extender, but in the process, even with the holes, it traps some of the milk inside the nipple shield, anyway.

How do I transition from nipple shield to breast?

To transition from regular weaning to a nipple shield, you can do the following:

First, try pumping for starters. Pumping will not only give you a quick let-down, but it will also make the latching process easier as your nipple will become more elongated. Pumping will also help the baby feed from your nipples much easier. Do this a few minutes before you actually feed them.

Try suck-training with your pinkie finger. If your baby is new to sucking techniques, try giving them your pinkie finger, since it is the smallest. It will help them to try and get accustomed to the sucking motion once they are ready to latch onto your nipple.

Try breastfeeding as much as possible. Whenever your baby gets hungry, you should always pay attention and feed them accordingly. Among the signs that your baby wants to be breastfed include sucking on their fingers and making suction motions with their mouth. Babies can get hungry out of the blue and not always by a feeding schedule. Crying when they want milk is actually a late sign, so it’s easier to feed them even before they cry.

Change your nursing position. Find a good nursing position in which your baby will become more comfortable when they are latching on. If your baby is not comfortable in your arms then they will not only be reluctant to be nursed but they will also cry more often.

How do you size a nipple shield?

To measure your nipple shield, find the diameter of your nipple (without the areola) and take note of the measurement in millimeters. Below is a helpful chart on how to find a good nipple shield size.

Nipple size Recommended nipple shield size
17 mm 20 mm
20 mm 24 mm
23 mm 27 mm
26 mm 30 mm
32 mm 36 mm

Why do you use a nipple shield?

Many of the moms who use a nipple shield include the following:

1. Moms who have preemies. Premature babies always tend to have some manner of difficulty when they are trying to make suction towards the mother’s nipples, and this is when the nipple shield can potentially help them in latching on. Preemies usually have difficulty in breathing and this is why a nipple shield can potentially help them to train themselves in creating suction without having to pause or change their position.

2. Mothers with different kind of nipples. If you, as a mom, want to give breastfeeding to your baby but you have either inverted or flat nipples, this can make it quite difficult to latch on for your baby. By using a nipple shield when you are attempting to breastfeed your baby, it becomes an extender such that you are reaching out your extended nipple so that the baby can latch onto something without falling over unlike with your natural nipples.

Is it OK to use a nipple shield?

Yes, it is okay to use a nipple shield, but only when you have difficulty with your baby latching onto your nipples because you have flat or inverted nipples. It can also help your baby if they have difficulty in their sucking reflex, such as preemies. It is only meant to be a short-term solution and should only act as a training ground to help your baby latch onto your nipples much easier and to practice them on the habit and to get them used to it.

Can you use a nipple shield while pumping?

Yes! This is usually the case when a mom’s nipple is sore or damaged and needed to heal, so it is okay to use a nipple shield on one breast for the child and pump on the other – whichever you are comfortable with. Or, to ease the pain, you can also try a nursing lubricant.

With that said, nipple shields can actually work better when you have pumped before the actual breastfeeding process. It will help the milk to flow easier for your little one to catch it.

Will using a nipple shield decrease my milk supply?

As we mentioned above, if you don’t put your baby into the right position for latching, the milk supply may decrease. In order for your milk supply not to decrease, you should position the nipple shield and your baby correctly to ensure that they get milk.

How to Breastfeed with a Nipple Shield

To use a nipple shield for breastfeeding, here are the steps to do so:

Position the nipple shield correctly with your baby. After you have set your nipple shield onto your chosen nipple, set your baby in the proper nursing position much like with every other normal breastfeeding position so that the baby’s face is directly facing your nipples, so that they won’t feel awkward.

Watch your baby’s mouth movements. When your baby is yawning or opening their mouth, find it as an opportunity in order to begin latching. Pull the baby as close as possible so that you can fit the nipple and the nipple shield onto the baby. However, make sure that when they are latching on, their nose has proper breathing space.

Do’s and Don’ts of Using the Nipple Shield

Here are the dos and don’ts of using a nipple shield:

Dos Don’ts
·         Do pump before using a nipple shield to add milk and prevent chafing. ·         Do put yourself and your baby in a nice nursing position to avoid straining. ·         Do clean the nipple shield with cold water then hot soapy water afterward. ·         Don’t use it as a long-term solution, because it can decrease milk supply. ·         Don’t wear a nipple shield that has an incorrect size.

What nipple shield is best?

Here are 5 great breastfeeding nipple shields that we think would best fit you:

Medela Nipple Shield, 24mm

This medium-sized nipple shield is best for most moms who have inverted or flat nipples. It is BPA-free so it is very safe for your little one (and you) and can be easily cleaned. At 24 mm in size, this one has a special design that mimics the natural shape of the nipple.

Many moms commend it to be easy to use, not hard to clean up, quite durable for many months of breastfeeding training and can really help with latching. Many moms also like the fact that it has thin and large holes so milk goes through easily.

Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield with Carrying Case

This set of nipple shields come in a size of 24 mm (or you can choose 20 mm) and these two nipple shields also include a carrying case. It will work well for those with flat or inverted nipples or babies with difficulty in latching or sucking.

Its texture is more realistic than most nipple shields and the carrying case makes it travel-friendly for moms who are often on the go and are breastfeeding outdoors. Many people commend it to be comfortable and minimize the hurt in breastfeeding.

Haakaa Nipple Shield Breastfeeding with Carrying Case

Another breastfeeding nipple shield with a more natural style would be this one. It has 3 designs: butterfly shape, round shape, and ultra-thin or the cut shape, for those who want something thinner. It can fit most nipple sizes due to the natural design and it will work well for flat nipples as well.

This one has a symmetrical butterfly shape which makes it easily stick onto your nipples without easily falling away. It is also ideal for moms who have cracked nipples. With an anti-slip convex design, this one has no PVC, BPA, and phthalates to be baby-safe.

purifyou Premium Nipple Shield

This nipple shield is available in 2 sizes: 20 mm and 24 mm, and it is packed in a drawstring bag made of soft cotton so it will be gentle to your nipple shield. It contains 3 nipple shields per bag and all of them are BPA-free and BPS-free.

They can be easily washed with warm soapy water, like most nipple shields. Babies who have a high palette and a shallow latch can also benefit well from the size of this nipple shield set.

Momma Bear Essentials Premium Nipple Shield

Having a total of 6 shields in the pack, this one is also in a soft cotton reusable bag and is great for long travels. They are all free from latex, lead, BPA, BPS and phthalates and are made with a good cut-out shape to make latching easy.

The nipples are not only easy to clean but they are also excellent for babies who have colic or gas problems, which can come from catching air. With this nipple shield, your baby gets less air and they can feed on it like a baby bottle.

Conclusion

As a whole, we conclude that nipple shields are definitely good – as long as you use them properly and accordingly. Remember that nipple shields are only meant to train your baby into breastfeeding and not as a long-term solution. We hope this guide for nipple shields help you out!

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