We are not advocating the general use of nipple shields, but when considered necessary and under supervision (and follow-up) by an IBCLC lactation consultant or suitably qualified health professional, their selected use can be beneficial.
Pack of 2.
Review of Gentle Feed Nipple Shields by Mary Lantry (formerly Lactation Consultant at RPA Hospital, Sydney, and CAPERS Bookstore workshop presenter)
The use of a nipple shield (more recently marketed as nipple protectors) may be advised if a baby is unable to latch to the breast and feed effectively. It is commonly associated with the following situations:
- breast refusal
- incoordinate suck
- inverted/flat nipples
- extreme nipple pain (where it is often suggested as a last resort in preference to the mother weaning)
A nipple shield should only be used once the milk is ‘in’ and only as a short term measure.
Problems associated with shield use can be reduced by :
- using a shield suitable to the situation*
- showing the mother how to use the shield correctly
- assessing the baby’s ability to latch well using the shield and observing for changes in the baby’s sucking pattern, indicating good milk transfer
- correct cleaning and storing of the shield between uses
- arranging appropriate on-going follow-up to actively wean the baby from the shield.
*Easily accessible standard nipple shields are suitable for the majority of mothers if a nipple shield is considered necessary. However, feedback from lactation consultants is that they seem not to be as effective for premature infants or mothers with small nipples. This ‘Gentle Feed’ nipple shield is made of softer silicone and has a larger opening for the nipple. It has been used with great success in these situations.
Mary Lantry IBCLC
(formerly) Lactation Consultant, King George V Hospital, Sydney