Pros & Cons of Nipple Shields

Pros & Cons of Nipple Shields

Read time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • If you are having a difficult time getting your baby to latch properly, a nurse or lactation consultant may recommend the use of a nipple shield.
  • A nipple shield is a flexible, soft silicone nipple that fits over your nipple and areola that can help your baby latch on properly as you both get used to breastfeeding.
  • Research has shown that premature infants who nurse with nipple shields intake more milk than infants who don’t use a nipple shield when nursing.
  • Nipple shields can also help transition babies from bottles to breastfeeding.
  • Because your baby may not be able to completely drain your breast with the nipple shield, it’s important to use a breast pump after nursing, keeping your milk supply up and reducing the risk of plugged milk ducts.

If you are having a difficult time getting your baby to latch properly, a nurse or lactation consultant may recommend the use of a nipple shield. A nipple shield is a flexible, soft silicone nipple that fits over your nipple and areola. Using a nipple shield can help your baby latch on properly as you both get used to breastfeeding.

When to Use a Nipple Shield

A nipple shield can be helpful for you to use in several situations. These situations include:

  • Breastfeeding a baby who is premature, small or ill – The nipple shield holds the nipple in an extended state, which will allow your baby to latch and nurse easier. Research has shown that premature infants who nurse with nipple shields intake more milk than infants who don’t use a nipple shield when nursing.
  • Flat or inverted nipples. The nipple shield can help hold inverted or flat nipples in the proper position for the baby to latch on properly.
  • Switching babies from bottle to breast – Silicone nipple shields have a similar texture to bottles, providing comfort for babies who refuse or are used to breastfeeding without the aid.
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples – An improper latch may traumatize your nipples, making it extremely painful to breastfeed. A nipple shield can help protect sensitive nipples while they heal.

Disadvantages to Using a Nipple Shield

  • Your milk supply may decrease as a result of your nipple not being directly stimulated.
  • You are at an increased risk of developing blocked milk ducts and mastitis because of decreased milk transfer.
  • It can be difficult to wean your baby off of the nipple shield.

Different Types of Shields

Nipple shields are either formed from silicone, latex or rubber. They come in different sizes ranging from small to large. It’s important to choose the proper size in order to fit both your baby’s mouth and your nipple. Some types of nipple shields have a cut out lower portion, which allows more skin-to-skin contact.

Using a Nipple Shield

How to Use a Nipple Shield

Place the shield onto your nipple with the brim of the shield upturned. Once the nipple is in place, smooth out the edges. The will help the shield to stick to your breast. If you still have difficulty in getting the shield to stay properly, try moistening the edges only with a little water. If your nipple doesn’t fit into the shield properly, try the next size up, ensuring that it isn’t too large for your baby’s mouth.

Remember to Pump

Your body will make breast milk based on “supply and demand.” The more milk that is removed from your breast, the more that your body will make. Because your baby may not be able to completely drain your breast with the nipple shield, it’s important to use a breast pump after nursing to express the milk as your body regulates itself. Without a breast pump, your milk supply may decrease if your baby can’t remove all of the milk he or she needs. Pumping can also reduce the risk of plugged milk ducts. Most insurance companies will provide you with a breast pump at no cost to you.

When Not to Use a Nipple Shield

If your baby isn’t having at least six wet diapers a day and isn’t gaining weight, you may need to discontinue using a nipple shield and try a different method (such as pumping) while you work on your latch. Talk with your doctor, lactation consultant or nurse for help.

Tips for Weaning Your Baby from the Nipple Shield

As your baby grows and you become more comfortable with nursing, you won’t need to continue to use your nipple shield. Because your little one will be used to using it, however, it may take some time to wean your baby from the nipple shield. Try these methods:

  • Pumping for a few minutes before breastfeeding until your milk has “let down.”
  • Applying cold water or ice to your nipple for a few seconds to harden it.
  • Breastfeeding without the nipple shield while your baby is very sleepy.
  • Breastfeeding more often than usual. If you wait until your baby gets too hungry, he or she will be more likely to reject your breast without the shield.
  • Try nursing in different positions.

How to Care for Your Nipple Shield

Because it’s coming into contact with your baby’s mouth and your breast, it’s important to clean your nipple shield after every feeding. Wash your nipple shield in hot, soapy water and allow it to air dry. Boil it once a day in a pot of water for 20 minutes to keep it sanitized.

Using a nipple shield can help you nurse successfully while your baby grows or while your nipples heal. Be sure to use a nipple shield with the help of a lactation consultant or nurse for the best results.

For more information or parenting support, visit our blog.

Is Sympathetic Pregnancy Real?

If your husband or partner claims that he, too, is experiencing pregnancy cravings or morning sickness, your first instinct may be to roll your eyes at him or suspect that he is in need of some serious attention. After all, you are the one expecting the baby. Surprisingly, he may not be exaggerating. Expectant dads can also experience pregnancy symptoms. Couvade syndrome, also known as “sympathetic pregnancy,” affects an estimated 80 to 90 percent of expectant dads.

 

What is Sympathetic Pregnancy?

The name “Couvade syndrome” is derived from the French word “couver,” which means “to hatch.” The condition has become more common in the past 30 years as fathers have taken a more prominent role in pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Fathers who experience sympathetic pregnancy have many of the same physical and emotional symptoms as their pregnant counterparts.

 

Causes of Sympathetic Pregnancy

Though scientists aren’t completely sure of the reason that the syndrome occurs, it is believed to be caused by strong feelings of stress and empathy. Anxiety about the health of their partner and the new baby, as well as financial concerns and worries about becoming a new dad can cause a large amount of stress in expectant fathers. When this stress isn’t controlled in healthy ways, the body reacts by releasing a potent combination of the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones, combined with empathy for the pregnancy symptoms of their expectant partners, are believed to cause the condition to occur.

Particularly stressful situations, such as experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss, make the condition more likely to occur in subsequent pregnancies. Additionally, some studies show that fathers who are adopted are more likely to experience sympathetic pregnancy.

 

Typical Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome

While most expectant dads will experience sympathetic pregnancy symptoms at some point, only a small percentage will experience dramatic symptoms. These common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Heartburn
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Mild swelling

In rare cases, expectant dads have reported breast growth, vomiting and experiencing cramping or abdominal pain as their wife or partner went into labor.

 

Treatment for Sympathetic Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is no medication to alleviate the symptoms of a sympathetic pregnancy. Things that can help your husband or partner are many of the things that your doctor has probably recommended for you: eating healthy, getting exercise and practicing stress-relief techniques before going to sleep at night. You can help your husband or partner by trying these activities together. Work together to make a healthy dinner at night or go on evening walks together.

These activities can not only alleviate his symptoms but can help the two of you bond while you prepare to meet your new little one. Bonding can make him feel more secure of his role as your husband or partner and of his new role as a father. If your husband or partner is experiencing extreme sympathetic pregnancy symptoms, however, it’s a good idea for him to talk with a doctor or mental health professional to determine how to best help him.

 

The next time that your husband or partner complains of his swollen ankles, invite him to prop up his feet next to yours. His symptoms are springing up from the concern he has for you and your new little one and maybe (just a little) need for some extra attention. Go ahead and give him a little extra sympathy for what he is experiencing and know that relief is coming for both of your symptoms in the form of a brand-new baby. While you’re doing your own research about what to expect, it may be beneficial for your partner to do some studying up of their own. Ameda has a wide variety of resources that can help to put both mom and her partner at ease. The more you both know about what to expect before, during and after the birth of your new baby, the more comfortable you’ll both be as you wait for the arrival of your new bundle of joy.

Do I Qualify?

Not Sure If You're Covered?

Fill out our request form to see if you qualify for an Insurance Covered Breast Pump.

X