Nipple shields can be a very useful temporary tool when used appropriately. Made of thin silicon, these are intended for use by women who have flat or inverted nipples and should not be introduced until the mother’s milk is flowing freely – usually around 3 or 4 days after the birth. Nipple shields enable the baby to latch, suck and feed as the shield fills with milk, which often draws the flat nipple out somewhat in the process. Repeated feeds using the nipple shield can gradually encourage an inverted or flat nipple to evert, making it possible for the baby to transition to breastfeeding without the shield over time.
Sometimes temporary use of a nipple shield can assist a mother with nipple trauma to resume breastfeeds, however it is most important that the cause of the nipple trauma, usually poor attachment during previous feeds, is corrected otherwise the nipple pain and trauma will continue to occur. I have known hundreds of nursing mothers who have overcome breastfeeding problems by using nipple shields. However, they must be used correctly and effectively otherwise new problems can be created as they interfere with stimulation of the areola and can contribute to reduced breastmilk supply issues. Babies can also quickly become dependent on feeding with the nipple shield and refuse to latch without in. A Lactation Consultant can best guide a mother with initiating use of a nipple shield and eliminating it when the time is right for her and her baby. New Baby 101 provides breastfeeding guidance including a free “how to” video www zyban weight loss.newbaby101.com.au