Understanding and Using Nipple Shields

Understanding and Using Nipple Shields

Nipple shields can be incredibly helpful tools for breastfeeding mothers, providing support and comfort during nursing sessions. Whether you're looking to understand how nipple shields work, how to use them with a breast pump, or how to achieve a good latch, this guide has you covered.

How Do Nipple Shields Work?

Nipple shields are thin, flexible silicone covers that are placed over the nipple and areola during breastfeeding. They serve multiple purposes, such as:

  1. Protection: Nipple shields create a barrier between the nipple and the baby's mouth, which can be particularly beneficial if you're experiencing sore or cracked nipples. The shield offers a cushioning effect, reducing friction and discomfort.

  2. Latch Assistance: For infants struggling with latching onto the breast, nipple shields can provide a larger, more easily graspable surface. This can aid in achieving a better latch and facilitating feeding.

  3. Milk Flow Regulation: Some babies have trouble managing a fast milk flow. Nipple shields can help control the flow, allowing the baby to nurse more comfortably.

Using Nipple Shields with a Breast Pump: Can You?

Yes, you can use a nipple shield with a breast pump. This combination might be especially helpful if your baby is accustomed to nursing with a shield. Make sure to choose a nipple shield that is compatible with your breast pump's flange size. While some mothers find success with this method, it's essential to monitor milk output and ensure your baby is getting enough nourishment.

How to Put On a Nipple Shield: Step-by-Step


  1. Clean Hands: Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the nipple shield.

  2. Warmth: Warm the shield slightly between your hands to make it more pliable.

  3. Positioning: Gently position the shield over your nipple, ensuring that the baby's nose aligns with the opening at the top of the shield.

  4. Adhesion: Press the shield's edges firmly against your breast to create a seal.

  5. Latch: Help your baby latch onto the shield just as they would during regular breastfeeding.

How to Get a Good Latch with a Nipple Shield


  1. Positioning: Ensure your baby is in a comfortable and relaxed position. Support their head and body.

  2. Align Nose: Ensure your baby's nose is opposite the opening of the nipple shield for proper breathing.

  3. Wait for Mouth to Open: Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide before attempting to latch.

  4. Bring to Breast: As your baby's mouth opens, gently bring them to your breast, aiming for a deep latch.

How to Get Nipple Shields to Stay On

Getting a nipple shield to stay on securely can sometimes be a challenge. Here's how to improve adherence:

  1. Correct Size: Choose the right size nipple shield. It should fit snugly but not cause discomfort.

  2. Skin Moisture: Apply a small amount of breast milk or water to the inside of the shield before applying it. This can create a better seal.

  3. Positioning: Make sure the shield is correctly centered over your nipple and areola.

How to Clean Nipple Shields

Cleaning nipple shields is crucial to maintain hygiene:

  1. After Each Use: Rinse the shield with cold water to remove milk residue.

  2. Soap and Warm Water: Wash the shield with mild soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly.

  3. Air Dry: Allow the shield to air dry. Avoid using towels, as they can leave fibers on the shield.

Can You Use Nipple Shields Forever?

Nipple shields are meant to be temporary solutions. If you're experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, consider consulting a lactation consultant to address underlying issues. Using nipple shields for an extended period can affect milk supply and hinder the development of a strong latch.

Choosing the Right Nipple Shield Size for a Newborn

Nipple shield sizes vary. To find the right size for your newborn:

  1. Consult a Professional: A lactation consultant can help you determine the appropriate size based on your baby's mouth and your nipple size.

  2. Trial and Error: You might need to try a couple of sizes to find the best fit.

Remember, while nipple shields can be incredibly beneficial, seeking guidance from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional can ensure you're using them effectively and addressing any underlying breastfeeding challenges.

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