What is a nipple shield?
A nipple shield is a thin silicone device used over the nipple to temporarily help with breastfeeding. The most popularly used shield is the Medela Contact Nipple Shield.
Medela Contact Nipple Shield
Why would a nipple shield be used?There are a variety of reasons why a nipple shield would be used. Overall, it helps keep the breast in the baby’s mouth while they try to suck to get enough milk.
- Sore or cracked nipples that need healing
- Flat or inverted nipples
- Engorged breasts
- Latching problems
- Premature delivery
- Nipple confusion
- Unable to suck well because of physical challenges
How to use a nipple shield.
Always be sure the shield is clean before using it. In fact, washing it in warm water right before a feeding may help warm it up to fit and stay on the breast better. Gently fold the shield inside out about halfway before placing it on the nipple then fold it back right side out onto the skin. This creates a tight and comfortable fit for mom. There should be a bit of a gap between the nipple and the tip of the shield.
The Medela shield has a groove cut out to allow baby’s nose to still touch the breast, this helps him/her recognize the smell and feel closer to mom. Gently rub the tip against baby’s mouth until it opens wide enough to stick the shielded nipple inside. Be sure there is a wide and deep latch, not just baby’s mouth around the tip. Once baby is latched, they should begin sucking. Many babies are demanding and want instant gratification. If they aren’t happy sucking a few times before milk is released, try using a hand to expel some milk into the shield for baby to get going.