The use of nipple shields is becoming increasingly popular due to their availability and often being given as gifts as an essential breastfeeding tool prior to baby’s arriving. Nipple shields can be beneficial for some women, with specific breastfeeding issues or challenges, however for some the use of nipple shields can often lead to another whole set of breastfeeding issues.
Nipple shields are often promoted as a means to eliminate nipple pain and discomfort and while this may seem beneficial in the short term, the cause of the soreness and damage can often go untreated.
(if your pain has stopped – then stop using the nipple shield)
Incorrect positioning of the baby to the breast is the most common cause of nipple pain and damage.
Using a warm moist compress on sore nipples is soothing and healing along with bathing cracked nipples with freshly expressed breastmilk.
Seeing a Lactation Consultant as soon as possible to ensure correct attachment of the baby to the breast is important.
The use of nipple shields if not placed correctly onto the breast can cause more nipple damage, it is important that mothers who are using nipple shields have been shown how to correctly apply them to the breast. An incorrect placement can also cause a reduction in milk supply as the baby may not be able to adequately stimulate the breast.
For a baby, attaching to the breast is quite a different experience than attaching to a nipple shield. Learning early on to breastfeed with a nipple shield in place can make it challenging later on to wean from their use, it is essential therefore if nipple shields are being used, that there is education and guidance prior and throughout their use.