The Truth About the Nipple Shield

Using a nipple shield...

Many new mothers are confused by conflicting advice surrounding nipple shields. We want to dispel some of the myths surrounding nipple shields and talk about when and how they can be helpful for your nursing journey.

When is a good time to use a nipple shield?

One of the most obvious times to use a shield is with a premature baby. When you are working to breastfeed a premature baby the baby may have difficulty latching, the nipple shield will help baby with latching. This allows mother and baby to establish a breastfeeding relationship while the baby grows big enough to eventually latch without the nipple shield.

Other appropriate times include when your baby has a small mouth and is unable to open wide enough around the nipple. When the mother has flat or inverted nipples. In the case of a small mouth, the nipple shield helps baby with it's latch enabling baby to suck adequately. In the case of flat or inverted nipples, after the mother works on pulling out the nipple, the shield again helps keep the shape and allows baby to latch and suck appropriately.

And, get this, another good time to use the nipple shield is if that's what you need to do to be able to reach your goal of breastfeeding. That's right, if you are experiencing pain and discomfort beyond the normal, a nipple shield might help you reach your goals of breastfeeding.

When using a nipple shield you will have to be sure you gauge baby's output to be sure they are getting enough milk, do this by monitoring wet and dirty diapers. You also need to be sure your breasts are being emptied properly, if you start to experience a clogged duct, look for helpful ways to empty it and prevent mastitis.

How to problem solve before introducing a nipple shield.

Enlist the help of your Postpartum Doula for basic breastfeeding support. When the issues go beyond the basics, your Postpartum Doula can refer you to a trusted Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to provide additional support for you and your baby.

Check for a tongue tie. This often causes latch or suck issues in babies.

Chiropractic care for your newborn. This article goes over what to expect with newborn adjustments and how it might help your nursing relationship. Chiropractic Care for Newborns.

There is no need to fear the nipple shield, it can be so helpful in allowing you and baby to reach your nursing goals. When the time comes to wean off of the shield, there are resources out there for that!