Nipple shields when they are used correctly can help you continue to breastfeed, but it is important to get support from a healthcare professional or a lactation consultant to find the root cause of a feeding issue. Examples of where nipple shields may help include sore and cracked nipples, prematurity, tongue tie, or inverted nipples to name a few.
Optimising positioning and attachment, as well as doing breast compressions, while using shields is essential! Sometimes it can help to prefill the shield with a small amount of expressed milk to give your baby an instant reward when they latch.
Breast compressions – these can be useful while using nipple shields. When your baby is just sucking but no longer swallowing you can start using breast compressions. You can compress your hands in a ‘C’ shape or press with the palm of your hand, whatever works best for you. Make sure your hand isn’t too close to the latch as this may shallow it. Use gentle pressure and compress your breast. This will trigger milk to be released, and then your baby reacts by swallowing, keep holding the compression till the baby stops for a pause, and then repeat. When your baby is no longer reacting to compressions you can offer the other side.
Ardo Tulips Nipple Shields – made of soft silicone, with a cut-out part for the baby’s nose to allow the baby to smell you and have skin contact. Three sizes are available, 16mm, 20mm, and 24mm, this refers to the diameter of the nipple portion of the shield. It is vital that the shield fits you. It needs to fit around the diameter of your nipple comfortably. We don’t want to force a nipple into a shield that is too small as this will cause pain.
How to use – hold the nipple shield with your thumbs on either of the nipple part of the shield and turn it partly inside out. Place the shield centrally on the nipple and unroll it onto the nipple and areola. The nipple will be drawn into the shield, creating a vacuum. The cutaway area can be lined up with the baby’s nose so they can smell the breast.
If the shield is too big you will see a gap between the base of your nipple and the base of the nipple portion of the shield, your nipple won’t get enough stimulation, which may lead to reduced milk production and milk transfer. However, there needs to be room for the nipple to extend. If there is no gap between the end of the nipple and the end of the shield, the nipple may be drawn through the holes causing pain.
The nipple shield fitting you is a priority, but it also needs to fit your baby. If the length of the nipple shield is too long the baby may have a shallow latch on the breast and gag. If it is too small, the nipple portion of the shield may be placed only on the front part of the tongue and it may not trigger active suckling. Both may reduce milk intake and supply. We want the baby to open its mouth nice and wide, with no nipple portion of the shield seen.
Cleaning – sterilise the shields before you first use them and then once a day wash with warm water and soap in between uses. You can store the shields in their storage container.
Nipple shields are usually a temporary measure. When weaning from a nipple shield you could try having skin-to-skin with your baby or co-bathing to encourage latching. You could begin the feed with a shield and switch halfway through to no shield. Try offering the breast when they are sleepy or relaxed, if your baby rejects the breast try again another time. Experimenting with positioning, stimulating a letdown before latching, and breast compressions while feeding can also be helpful.
Customer Review of Ardo Tulips Nipple Shields – “Really struggled at the start of my breastfeeding journey as poor latch left me bleeding and bruised. These were literally a lifesaver as they were really easy to use and allowed me to continue to breastfeed while also healing as baby wasn’t coming in direct contact with her mouth. – Charlotte”
Content provided by Ilayda Gill, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist – for more help @infantfeedingwithilayda