Using a nipple shield when breastfeeding may be necessary when baby is having difficulty latching due to an issue with the tongue or mouth, such as a tongue tie or prematurity. A nipple shield can help keep baby feeding while mom and baby work on improving the latch. It can also be helpful when a mother has very sore, damaged or bleeding nipples and needs a way to continue to breastfeed while they heal.
Many mothers find that their babies are more likely to latch well with the shield on if the shield is warm and wet before use. Soaking or rinsing the shield in warm water can make it more supple and create a better suction or seal once it is placed on the breast. Some mothers place a little nipple oil or lanolin on the edge of the shield before using it to encourage the baby to start sucking, and some mothers express a few drops of milk into the tip of the shield to help it stay in place.
It can take time for a baby to learn how to feed through the nipple shield, and it is important that parents and care providers remain patient. It is also recommended that baby’s weight be checked more frequently when nipple shields are used, as a lack of adequate breastfeeding can lead to weight loss in infants. If a woman is having trouble breastfeeding, she should seek the help of qualified breastfeeding support. nipple shield breastfeeding