Nipple shields for breastfeeding can be helpful in a number of cases. They are especially useful when there is a problem with the infant’s mouth or tongue that makes getting a good latch difficult, such as prematurity or a condition like tongue-tie (1). They are also useful in cases where the mother’s nipples are very sore due to breastfeeding and/or pumping (2). In these instances, nipple shields help to prevent the soreness caused by compressing different areas of the breast (3).
A nipple shield can be used by placing it over the breast and stretching it to the base of the areola so that it covers all but the very tip of the nipple. Some mothers find it helps to put a bit of nipple cream or ointment around the outside edge of the shield before putting it on. This can minimise chafing, which can be uncomfortable for both the mother and the baby.
When a nipple shield is being used, it is important that the breastfeeding mother still works to help her infant achieve a deep and effective latch at the breast. This is important to both the mother and the infant because a weak or shallow latch can lead to low milk production, sore nipples and sometimes mastitis (painful inflammation of the breast). It is also important to know that even though a nipple shield can help with this, it will not fix problems such as a poor latch, low milk supply or sore nipples. If these issues are causing the mother or infant discomfort, the best solution is to seek skilled breastfeeding support. nipple shields for breastfeeding