Why do some mothers and babies use nipple shields? Let’s review some reasons and strategies.
Before you welcome your newborn, assume breastfeeding will work. When your baby is born, rest together skin to skin. This is a positive first impression. Let your baby adjust and organize him or herself. Early breastfeeding is as much about learning as it is about nutrition. Ask for help when you need it, sooner than later.
Here are a few reasons you may, or may not, need a nipple shield.
• A mother is told her nipples are flat.
Your baby’s tongue (or the suction of the pump) stretches your nipples and makes them longer. Your nipples will change shape.
• A mother’s nipples are sore or injured.
If there’s a injury, shields protect the tissue. It shouldn’t mask a problem. The question remains, why does this hurt? It could be a problem with positioning, tongue tie or something else. A home visit with an IBCLC can help improve your nursing experience.
• A shield may help a baby make the transition from bottle to breast.
This will take time and calm practice. You can hold your infant at the breast to help with the transition to nursing… with and then without a shield, depending on the situation. There are ways to make feeding a more comfortable habit. IBCLC Lactation Consultants or a breastfeeding group can be helpful with guidance for this transition.
Make sure you have follow up if a shield is recommended. Because you’ll be nursing eight to ten times in a twenty four hour period, breastfeeding should be fairly easy and surely enjoyable. The purpose of nipple shields is to help you breastfeed comfortably.
The bottom line is, providing human breast milk has many benefits for you and your baby. You’re learning and doing a lot of good right there, and you can get help.