Most moms are concerned about latching baby to the breast, and it can be common for moms to struggle at first. However, if you’re experiencing persistent and severe latch problems, it may be time to talk to your Lactation Consultant about the temporary use of a nipple shield.
Nipple Shields are intended for moms who are experiencing serious latch problems and should only be used temporarily under the guidance of a Lactation Professional (find one in your area here). The following situations can typically benefit from the use of a nipple shield:
Breastfeeding A Premature Baby
A nipple shield can be helpful when breastfeeding a premature baby because it helps your baby create suction and position the nipple in a way they may not yet be strong enough to do. The nipple shield can hold your nipple in an extended position, ideal for breastfeeding. Also, your baby can pause to breathe without having to reposition your nipple. This makes it easy for your baby to return to your breast and feed effectively. In fact, research shows that milk consumption increases when a nipple shield is used with premature babies. Then, as your baby matures, the nipple shield may become unnecessary.
Moms with Flat or Inverted Nipples
If you have flat or inverted nipples, your baby may struggle to draw your nipple out and breastfeed effectively. Babies then may become uninterested in feeding or upset by the frustration. The nipple shield is shaped like an extended nipple, so it’s easier and more natural for a baby to latch on to. Over time, you’ll notice your nipples aren’t as flat or inverted as they used to be, and the nipple shield may no longer be necessary.
Babies who are refusing to return to the breast after bottle-feeding
Babies who were primarily bottle-fed may not be as willing to return to the breast as they grow older. So, the soft silicone nipple shield can be a familiar transition back to breast. Try putting a few drops of breast milk on the outside of the nipple shield when your breastfeeding to entice your baby to latch to the breast. You can also choose a contact nipple shield that allows for more skin-to-skin contact.
Did you use a nipple shield with your baby? How did it help make breastfeeding a success? Share your responses in the comments below.