A nipple shield is a soft protective cover, usually made of latex, silicon, or rubber, worn over the nipple and areola during breastfeeding. Regarding the shape, it may look like a Mexican hat and it is designed to conform to the nipple’s natural contour. Nipple shields have small holes at the tip, which allows the baby to breastfeed. The use of nipple shields is controversial. In this post, we will try to understand the disadvantages and other matters related to the use of nipple shields.
When is a nipple shield used?
Being a breastfeeding mom, you may need a few accessories to feed your baby. Examples of such devices are nursing pillows and nursing bras. Nipple shields fall within this category. However, they are often recommended in specific cases. For example, you may need a nipple shield if:
- Your nipples are flat or inverted
- Your baby is premature
- Your nipples are sore
- Your baby gets used to bottle treats
- Your baby has difficulties with latching
- You want your baby to exercise his or her tongue
Disadvantages of the nipple shield
If your newborn baby is unable to correctly latch onto your breasts, you may be tempted to use a nipple shield. However, there are disadvantages of nipple shields that you should take into account.
- Some of the nipple shields are very thick, which could reduce the amount of milk your baby gets from your breasts. In other words, shields can create a barrier between your breasts and your baby. Even soft silicone is not as flexible as yours skin. Keep an eye on your baby’s weight to check if he is getting enough milk.
- If your child is already used to the nipple shield, it might be hard to stop the habit. It is recommended that nursing mothers contact a lactation consultant after childbirth to learn the positions and ways of latching the baby to the breasts. Even if you have flat or inverted nipples, you can still successfully breastfeed your baby. Many experts think that the frequent use of nipple shields can make the babies dependent of this device.
- Finally, many women use nipple shields to reduce pain and soreness caused by breastfeeding. However, it is unlikely that you will notice an improvement after you use a nipple shield. If your nipples are sore, most likely you will continue feeling pain even with the shield on. Bear in mind that extreme soreness and pain can be associated with yeast infection, so make sure to consult with your doctor. Also, it quite common to suffer mild pain during the first few weeks of nursing. This will eventually subside with time.
In summary, before you decide to use a nipple shield, consult with a lactation specialist.