A nipple shield is a thin piece of silicone that is placed over the mother’s nipple to assist with infant latch. The shield provides a pressure on the baby’s palate which can help encourage sucking. Milk leaves the breast and is pulled through small holes at the tip of the shield into the baby’s mouth. Many mothers are given nipple shields before leaving the hospital with their newborns. But should all mothers and their babies use nipple shields?
Who might need a shield on a long-term basis:
- Mothers with inverted/flat nipples where the shield creates a nipple to latch onto
- Preterm babies where palate stimulation is needed to sustain the feeding for the first few weeks
Who might need a nipple shield for a short time period:
- Moms experiencing extremely painful latch while awaiting lactation consultation assistance
- Babies with severe tongue tie while awaiting tongue tie clipping procedure
Why shouldn’t all moms use a nipple shield?
- The thin silicone layer of the shield interferes with the normal sensory feedback between the baby and the breast. Many moms find their milk supply gradually decreases with the shield.
- It is inconvenient to correctly apply the shield, make sure it doesn’t fall off, and remember to bring it everywhere you go.
- Studies have showed moms who use shields with every feed tend to stop breastfeeding earlier than moms who directly breastfeed.
What do I do if I have extreme pain with latch, or was sent home with a shield and want to wean it off?
Contact the CPCMG lactation team! We would be happy to work with you to improve positioning and latch to make breastfeeding a comfortable experience. We can help you wean off a shield if you already are using one. We also have CPCMG providers who can perform tongue tie clipping procedures if needed. We are here to help and no question is off limits.