Latch Issues: When A Nipple Shield Can Help

March 7, 2013

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.


10 thoughts on “Latch Issues: When A Nipple Shield Can Help

  1. Sunshine Garcia says:

    I love my nipple shield I use it almost every feeding because my lil lady has latching issues she pinches my nipple up and then it scabs but with the nipple shield I am able to feed with no pain or scabbing this has been a life saver and has saved my breastfeeding situation I almost quit sue to the pain until my LC told me about the schiel :)! I am one proud mom to be able to breast feed exclusively!

  2. kim cooper says:

    My son and I don’t fit together. I have flat small nipples and he has a high palate. It’s a double edged sword. Thanks to your nipple shields, we are able to breastfeed successfully. My nipple is not changing like I was told it would. But that’s alright. Im happy doing whatever it takes to breastfeed my son. We could not do it without. We are nearly 4 months in and still going very strong!

    • Hi Kim,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us – it’s so wonderful to hear that you’ve been breastfeeding for 4 months. Keep up the great work!


  3. My baby boy is 8 days old. His first feeding after birth was successful, however, through the first night at the hospital he struggled to latch. He has a slight overbite and as my breasts had swollen, my nipples had also flattened. The LC brought me a nipple shield the next day and we’ve used it ever since. He nurses like a champ now! I still hope that with time he’ll be able to draw my nipples out and nurse without it but for now, I’m glad he’s able to latch comfortably and nurse successfully. It’s a beautiful thing!

    • Hi Alisa,

      A beautiful thing indeed! Thank you for taking the time to share and congratulations on your new baby. Happy breastfeeding!


  4. I had a baby boy in March. We had latch problems immediately after birth. I used a nipple shield for two months with every feeding until he was able to latch properly. I don’t know what I would have done without it!

    • Hi Jessica,

      We’re so glad to hear that our Nipple Shields could help you breastfeed successfully. Thanks for sharing + way to go!

      Have a great day,

  5. I had my son a month ago and due to my flat nipples, he wasn’t able to latch. The nipple shield made it so much easier. We have been exclusively breastfeeding since & have a goal of completely getting rid of the shield by 6-8 weeks.

    • Hi Kay,

      We’re so happy to hear that you’ve been having a good experience with Medela’s Nipple Shield. Congratulations on exclusively breastfeeding for one month – you should be so proud! Keep up the great work and thanks for taking the time to share.


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