The breastfeeding journey isn’t without its struggles. Clogged milk ducts, nipple pain, or babies who won’t latch can make breastfeeding challenging for many mothers and lead them to give up. Fortunately, nipple shields can help alleviate some of the stress that can come with difficult feeding sessions.
Nipple shields are typically made out of soft silicone and are designed to mimic the roof of a baby’s mouth where the suck reflex is located. When a mother’s nipple is covered by a nipple shield, it stimulates the roof of her infant’s mouth which can trigger a latching response and encourage a baby to begin suckling.
The best nipple shields are flexible and fit snuggly against a mother’s breast to ensure skin-to-skin contact and good milk flow during breastfeeding. They also come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate different nipples and the needs of each mother and infant. Some nipple shields have special features like an adjustable strap to keep it secure during nursing, and others are sterile and come with a convenient carrying case.
If you decide to use a nipple shield, we recommend that you start off every breastfeeding session by placing the shield on before beginning to nurse. Then slowly remove the shield halfway through the feeding or when switching to the other breast. This way you can monitor your baby’s feeding patterns and make sure they are suckling and swallowing well. It is also important to listen for active swallowing sounds and check your baby’s weight regularly to make sure they are getting enough milk (6-8 wet and poopy diapers is ideal). If you’re concerned that your baby may not be latching properly, talk to a lactation counselor. nipple shields for breastfeeding