A breast shield or a nipple shield is a flexible and very thin cover which is worn over the nipple and the aerola during breastfeeding. A nipple shield is usually made using materials like silicone, rubber or latex. Breast or nipple shield is usually advised to those women who have sore or cracked nipples or to those whose babies have a problem latching on.
Often, babies have a problem in sucking milk from the breast of his/her mother and even in such a case, a nipple shield is the right way to go. But there are some points which must be kept in mind while using such a shield. The following are the most effective tips for using breast shields:
- The first tip to use a breast shield is to sterilize it and wash it thoroughly with your hands before it can be used to aid breastfeeding. The nipple shield must be gently rinsed with warm water as this can help to soften it and so that it becomes easier to put it onto the nipple.
- To use the nipple shield effectively, you must turn it inside out about halfway and then place it on the nipple. The back of the shield must be placed on the aerola in such a way that the tip of the shield is drawn out. Basically, the nipple must be inside of the tip of the shield.
- In order to seal the nipple shield onto a fixed position, you can moisten its inside with a little bit of breastmilk. This will help to fix its position so that it does not move when the baby is latched on.
- In order to get the baby to suck milk from over the nipple shield, gently stroke the baby’s lips with it. Wait for the baby’s mouth to be open as much as possible and then latch the baby onto the brim of the shield.
- You must be in a position that you can see the baby’s mouth moving. You must also observe the sucking sounds that the baby is making while breastfeeding just to be sure that he/she is being able to get the milk properly.
- If the nipple shield gets cut or torn from anywhere, then you must immediately discard it and get a new one.
- The nipple shield must be changed every month because with time it tends to grow bacteria over it, despite your efforts to keep it clean and sterilized.
- It is important to know that nipple shields are only a temporary solution and they must be used only after taking the doctor’s permission or consultation. It is still unclear how these shields are useful or effective over a period of time and in the long run.
- Try using nipple shields made out of silicone rather than those made out of rubber or latex. This has to do with the effect on the baby’s intake of milk.
- You must also know about the negative effects or any possible side effects of nipple shields before you use them.