Consider this a PSA about nipple shields. Nipple shields can be a valuable tool for certain breastfeeding problems.
Here are a few examples of those problems:
- Preterm babies, some studies have shown that a nipple shield can be effective when working with babies that aren’t term.
- Babies with tongue tie, if you are waiting on a referral to get a tongue tie revision a nipple shield can be helpful and it extends far enough into the baby’s mouth to maintain latch.
- Babies with poor muscle tone can sometimes benefit from the rigidity of the shield.
Here are some reasons NOT to use a nipple shield:
- Baby will not latch, if you are using a shield, baby is still not latched.
- Breastfeeding is painful, if breastfeeding is painful it is because baby isn’t latching well. If you are using a shield, you still have a baby that is not latching well only now it is to the shield.
- Baby keeps coming off the breast, if baby stays on with the shield, please have infant evaluated for tongue tie/lip tie.
- If you are using a shield for any reason, please note that there is s good chance that your milk supply will diminish over time. This is because your baby’s saliva doesn’t come in contact with your nipple and stimulation is decreased by the layer of silicone.
I like to think of nipple shields the same way that we would consider antibiotics. With judicious use, they truly can be a lifesaver. But most of the time they are not necessary and they certainly aren’t going to do a thing for the common cold (or sore nipples).