A nipple shield is a piece of silicone worn over your areola and nipples to help with breastfeeding when other methods of getting a good latch are not working. It has a base that wraps around your areola and a conical shape for the nipple area that helps to encourage a good latch. It may also have a cut out area to allow for skin-to-skin contact during nursing and feeding. A nipple shield can be an effective tool to use when a baby has difficulty nursing due to prematurity, low milk supply, or other problems like tongue tie or lip tie. It is generally used on a temporary basis and under the advisement of a Lactation Consultant.
To use a nipple shield correctly, first make sure it fits correctly by putting your thumbs on the base of the shield and flipping it halfway inside out. This will leave a dimple at the end of the shield that you will put your nipple into. Then stretch it over your nipple and nipples, and sit it securely over your nipple area. Moistening the edges of the shield or using nipple cream can help it stick to your nipples.
When used correctly, a nipple shield can be an extremely effective tool for helping your baby to nurse effectively and gain weight. However, if it is not used correctly, the baby’s lips will push out on the shield instead of closing over your nipple. This can prevent milk transfer and cause discomfort for your baby, as well as interfere with a good latch. nipple shield