Nipple shields are a single piece of shaped silicone (either “conical” or “cherry” shaped) that you can use to assist with breastfeeding. It is important that you not use a nipple shield unless you’ve consulted with a lactation consultant first. It could be detrimental to use a nipple shield if perhaps there’s truly another root issue at play.
Nipple shields can be utilized for a variety of reasons:
- Inverted Nipples: A nipple shield can help in this situation by providing something for Baby to latch onto and to encourage the inverted nipple to be drawn out over the course of time.
- Flat Nipples: A nipple shield provides an area for Baby to easily latch onto in this scenario.
- Premature babies and bottle-fed babies: Babies who have become accustomed to bottle-feeding may transition to the breast more easily with the use of a nipple shield because the shield has a similar texture and mouth-feel as a bottle nipple.
- For Mom’s Comfort: If your nipples have become injured or are extremely sore, the nipple shield acts as a barrier, helping latching and nursing to be more comfortable while the nipples heal.
It’s important to note that nipple shields are not meant to be a long-term solution. They’re best used as a temporary measure to overcome challenges and help move you along to the next phase of breastfeeding. Because of this, it is vital to be working with a lactation consultant to guide you through the usage of nipple shields so you and Baby don’t wind up dependent on nipple shields.