When to Use a Nipple Shield

Reasons to use a Nipple Shield when Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a very demanding job and can be daunting particularly for new Mums. Some Mums use nipple shields as a breastfeeding aid to help with discomfort or difficulty latching.

Nipple Shield
Nipple Shield

The Nipple Shield is a thin silicone shield that is placed over the nipple and still allows the baby’s sucking motion to stimulate the breast. It creates gentle suction on the nipple which can draw the nipple out making it easier for baby to latch.  Nipple Shields can be used for 2-3 months to make breastfeeding easier for both you and your baby. Eventually you will be able to feed without it.

You could consider using a Nipple Shield for the following reasons –

  1. Damaged Nipples – The Nipple Shield is placed over the nipple and protects the nipple from cracking or bleeding. If you have damaged nipples, you should seek advice from a lactation consultant, your midwife or La Leche League. Your baby may be latching incorrectly and causing the damage. Please remember breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
  2. Inverted Nipples – If you have inverted nipples don’t give up on being able to breastfeed. You can still breastfeed your baby with the use of a nipple shield. The nipple shield will help make it easier for baby to latch on to and will draw the nipple out into the shield. Eventually your nipple will stay out and you will no longer need to use the nipple shield.  (If you notice you have inverted nipples while still pregnant, then using a Nipple Former device can help to extend out your nipple prior to baby arriving)
  3. Baby with poor latch – It can take a lot of trial and error when you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed. Every baby is different and some take longer than others to perfect this skill. If your baby is latched incorrectly, gently break the suction with your finger and take him off before re-latching him. The Nipple Shield will teach your baby to get a mouth full of breast and not to suck on the end of your nipple. If your baby is struggling to get his mouth open and take the breast properly then we suggest you speak to a lactation consultant about the possibility of your baby being tongue or lip tied.

Please keep in mind that the Nipple Shield is a Breastfeeding aid. They are excellent for helping Mums and babies get used to Breastfeeding. You should aim to wean your baby off the shield and on to the breast after 3 months of use (if not earlier) as the shield may decrease the stimulation of the breast needed to increase milk flow.