What Are Nipple Shields?
What Are Nipple Shields?
If you have decided that breastfeeding is the right option for you and your baby, then it may be beneficial to understand what nipple shields are. Breastfeeding has countless benefits for both you and your baby, but we understand that it does not come easily to all mothers. But there is no need to worry! There are plenty of resources we can guide you toward that can help you if you have any problems breastfeeding.
One problem mothers often encounter while feeding is their baby’s inability to latch onto their nipple, preventing proper suction and milk expression. This can cause problems for both the mother and the baby if not taken care of early. Nipple shields can help counter this problem.
What are nipple shields?
Nipple shields are breastfeeding accessories designed as flexible silicone nipples. They are worn over the nipple by the mother during feeding time.
How do they help?
Nipple shields can help by making it easier for your baby to latch on to your nipple and feed easily. They’re designed to be an extended version of the natural nipple, so they are intended to provide extra surface area for your baby to latch on to. This can make feeding easier and more comfortable. It also creates suction, making milk expression easier for some.
Should you try them?
A nipple shield might be able to help you breastfeed in the following instances:
- The baby is premature or ill and doesn’t have the energy to suck efficiently
- You have naturally flat or inverted nipples that don’t provide enough surface area for the baby to latch on to
- If you have an overactive letdown reflex, in which case the force of milk expression can sometimes cause the baby to choke or sputter. Using a nipple shield can break the force, making it easier for the baby to swallow milk
- The baby has a congenital problem such as a lip or tongue tie that can make feeding difficult. Until it’s corrected, a nipple shield might help them feed by providing a shallow latch
If you feel like you need nipple shields, please refer to a lactation consultant. Nipple shields should only be used temporarily and only under the expertise of a lactation consultant.
Lactation Consultants And Classes Can Help
If you feel like you can benefit from using a nipple shield, or if you have any other questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding, it’s a good idea for you to partake in our lactation class.
Our lactation class is taught by a certified lactation consultant and is offered on an as-needed basis.
During these classes, you can:
- Identify benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby
- Receive guidance on breastfeeding along with tips and techniques
- Get solutions for breastfeeding problems
- Learn information on breast pumping
- Improve breastfeeding outcomes
For these classes, registration is required. Call 210-481-7549 for more information.