While serving Toronto and its surroundings, quite often we meet the family already using nipple shields, and, often, having mixed feelings about it. So we, as Lactation Consultants, decided to shed some light on this issue. Photo credit: Oksana Laurinaviciene, IBCLC

What is the nipple shield?

A nipple shield is a thin and flexible silicone “glove” with few openings on its tip so you could wear it on your own nipple while breastfeeding your baby. They come in few shapes and sizes, also areola part of the shield might be all-around or with some cutout, which is more preferable, as it allows to have more skin-to-skin contact for a baby while being at the breast.

What should I know about nipple shields?

1. It does not make a bottle out of the breast,

that’s why you should try your best to latch your baby so they get as much breast tissue as possible, not only nipple itself. In the opposite case, it will be very ineffective, long and really painful breastfeeding experience.

2. It is a special purpose breastfeeding accessory,

which should be used under the guidance of your IBCLC. This will allow you to be sure you’re using it properly and your baby is transferring the milk from the breast with it, not just soothing themselves. Watch closely your baby’s drinking at the breast while using it.

3. It is a stepping stone on the road to successful breastfeeding.

If you tried everything and this is your last resort, go ahead and give it a try, you are still breastfeeding using a nipple shield, no matter what you’ve might be told. Think of it as of the cast used to protect your broken leg and to let your bones to grow together again. If this saves you from quitting the whole idea of breastfeeding and gives you a break, it did its function very well! If you feel that you need some extra help on how to wean from it, feel free to reach out!

How should I use the nipple shield?

Video credit: Janet Jones, IBCLC

Our tip on better sizing: if your nipples are too big for the biggest possible shield size, try to immerse it in the boiling water for a minute or so and then take it out and immediately stretch it – it should help to make it bigger and fit your nipple better.

If you require urgent help with breastfeeding:

Call or text @ 416-804-9300