Do you have a cracked nipple and you are finding it difficult breastfeeding your baby? Or is your baby finding it difficult to latch because they are born prematurely? If yes – then the nipple shield is something that can be used to salvage the situation.
What Is A Nipple Shield?
A nipple shield is a flexible silicone breastfeeding device that you wear over your nipple when breastfeeding your baby. However, this should be a temporary solution and must be under the strict recommendations of a lactation expert before using it. These shields are used only for a few days after birth if the baby is premature or they have issues with latching.
How To Use Nipple Shield
After it has been recommended by a lactation expert and you have acquired one, the next thing to do is to soak the nipple shield in warm water – this will help you to secure it firmly on your nipple. Besides, if it’s still not sticking to your nipple – a little nipple cream can be applied also.
Place the shield over your nipple and ensure that it firmly fits into your areola and nipple. With the shield on, bring your baby close to your breast to latch on.
Also, it is advisable to discontinue use as soon as your baby gets a hang on latching or immediately your nipple heals.
How To Clean Nipple Shield
It is essential you clean before and after every use. Therefore, it is advisable when using for the first time to place the nipple shield in boiling water for about 5 minutes – this guarantees its safety.
For subsequent use, it can be placed in a microwave – this should be done according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Besides, you could place it in hot water for 5 minutes or sterilize the liquid.
It can be stored in a clean and dry carry box.
Nipple Shield Sizing
Nipple shield comes in varying sizes – you can get assistance from your lactation consultant or doctor on the best size for you and your baby.
However, most newborns would require a small-sized nipple shield – so, you will know if you are with the right sized nipple shield when your nipple fits into the shield and in turn fits into your baby’s mouth.
Having a shield that is too big for your baby could mean your baby will find it difficult to latch.
What To Consider When Buying A Nipple Shield
The most important thing to consider when buying a nipple shield is the size or shape of the shield. So, if you aren’t sure of what to buy – you can consult your doctor or lactation consultant to guide you in selecting the most appropriate shield.
Nipple Shield Review
Choosing the best nipple shield could be a big task because there are several brands in the marketplace.
So, for new moms and those currently breastfeeding, the nipple shield review below would help you to make an informed decision when buying a nipple shield;
The Medela nipple shield is the best choice for moms who have latching difficulties, who have flat or inverted nipples, or for moms with overactive letdowns. It allows for more skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby.
Interestingly, mothers can choose from the 16mm, 20mm, and 24mm sizes – with this, moms can easily find a suitable shield for their nipple. It is made from a BPA-free material that comes from 100% ultra-thin and soft silicone that is suitable for both baby and mom.
The half-moon cut ensures that the baby’s nose is adequately positioned. So, if you want the best skin-to-skin contact nipple shield – the Medela shield is the best choice.
The Avent nipple shield comes in two sizes – viz-a-viz; small and standard sizes. It is specially designed to assist moms with cracked or sore nipples to reduce pains during breastfeeding sessions.
Also, it is designed in such a way to allow skin-to-skin between mother and baby. Besides, it is made from ultra-fine silicone, odorless, and tasteless material. The Avent shield comes with three big holes around the nipple area to promote adequate milk flow.
This can be sterilized by boiling in water or using the bottle sterilizer. The selling point of this nipple shield is the fact that it’s budget-friendly and still gets the job done.
The Mamivac is arguably one of the best nipple shields in the marketplace. Just like the Avent brand – the Mamivac nipple shield is designed for moms with sensitive, sore, or cracked nipples. Women with retracted and flat nipples will find this useful also.
Interestingly, its design makes it possible for skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. Besides, it is made from thin and tasteless silicone material making it safe for your baby.
The Mamivac shield comes in 5 sizes – which are; small, medium cherry, small conical, medium conical, and large conical. So, for mothers looking to select from different shield sizes – the Mamivac Nipple shield is your choice.
The Lansinoh brand is another trusted brand that specializes in making nipple shields for babies with latching issues – this could be associated with either premature, small-sized babies, or babies that are sick. Besides, women with inverted nipples, flat nipples, and overactive letdowns can also find this useful.
Besides, its special cut-out design promotes skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. It is made of soft, ultra-thin, and flexible silicone material for the baby’s utmost comfort. It is both BPA and BPS-free.
The selling point of this shield is the fact that it comes with a carry case for keeping it safe from germs. They come in two sizes which moms can choose from – either a size 1 (20 millimeters) or size 2 (24 millimeters).
Also, this is made for babies with latching difficulties or for mothers with inverted or flat nipples. Moms with sore or cracked nipples can also find this useful if they want to continue breastfeeding. The cut-out design of this nipple shield promotes skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom.
It is made from non-toxic, soft, ultra-thin, and flexible silicon material. It is both BPA and Phthalates free. Also, it is designed for continuous breastfeeding and therefore making breastfeeding comfortable for both baby and mom.
It comes with a case for storage purposes and also prevents germs from gaining access to it. It can tolerate high-temperature sterilization and can also be sterilized inside boiling water. Unlike the other nipple shields that come in varying sizes – this shield fits all sizes of nipples.
How Long Should A Nipple Shield Be Used?
This device is designed to be used for a short time except for extreme cases like when it’s a premature baby. After a while, the baby can probably do without the use of a nipple shield. So, as much as your baby’s weight keeps improving – there is no harm in using it. However, there is a need to speak with your lactation consultant to counsel on what is best for you.
Weaning From Nipple Shield
You must ensure that weaning your baby from a nipple shield does not end in resistance from your baby.
So, it is advisable to only use the nipple shield occasionally and not for every feeding. So, since the nipple shield is used based on recommendations from your lactation consultants – it should be easier to outsmart your baby by taking it off in-between meals and continue without it.
The following are other useful tips that will help you to easily wean from nipple shield;
- Ensure to have a good breastfeeding position and latching
- Do not wait for your baby to get too hungry before feeding
- Promote skin-to-skin contact when breastfeeding
- If your baby becomes resistant and upset with the shield – calm him/her down and begin again.
Pros Of A Using A Nipple Shield
- It aids the healing of a sore or cracked nipple
- Babies with issues of latching can now easily breastfeed
- Premature babies will now find it easy to breastfeed while getting a grasp on breastfeeding
- Low milk may be available to your baby if it is wrongly used
- Weaning a baby from the shield could be difficult in the long run
- Could result in a clogged milk duct and eventually mastitis if there is poor milk transfer to the baby.
- There could also be a case of low milk production from a mom if the baby is not adequately stimulating the breast milk production.
Not all women have the same breastfeeding experience. For some, they might have a smooth ride while for others – it might be a herculean and overwhelming task.
So, moms with cracked or sore nipples and that still want to breastfeed can have it easy with the help of the nipple shield. Besides, babies with latching issues too can breastfeed easily.
Therefore, in making use of a nipple shield – there is a need to consult with your doctor or your lactation consultant in finding the nipple shield that works best for you.