Okay, if there are two words to describe these weird looking discs, it’s not flying saucer. It has to be life saver. They helped when the pain of sore, cracked, and bleeding breasts were unbearable. Heaven sent! 🙂
So since it was so new to me, I had no idea how to use it at the start and I didn’t really realise that it was supposed to be a temporary solution (although there are a few moms who use it for a longer period and are okay with it).
I was actually thinking of using it for the long haul. But then I thought, hey, the people I saw breastfeeding seemed to have it easy and didn’t even need things like these. So I guess at some point, I knew I had to say good-bye to them.
How does it help?
- If your nipples are sore and badly damaged, and nipple creams just aren’t enough anymore, then nipple shields provide a good barrier between you and your baby.
- It helps premature babies or babies with challenges in maintaining attachment to your breasts (like flat or inverted nipples).
- It can also help babies who are nipple confused, and prefer an artificial nipple.
Bottom line, nipple shields are the last resort if your breast milk is in and your baby is experiencing so much difficulty with attachment. It helps you not to give up with breastfeeding right away because there is still hope.
Found out later on that you should only use this in the first minutes of the feed. Once your baby is correctly latched, you can quickly remove the shield, and have your baby attach directly to your breast. I mean, how was I supposed to know then, right?
Why is it a temporary solution?
I honestly thought I found THE perfect solution to my breastfeeding woes. Finally, my nipples can have a barrier so they can heal! So from the last few days in the hospital, I continued to use it at home.
My mom and sister came for a visit after a week, and I wouldn’t hear the end of it. “What’s that? We’ve never had that before!” “OMG, you don’t need that!” Yeah I know, they love me like that.
Prolonged use of nipple shields aren’t so good because:
- It can decrease your milk supply.
- It also decreases the milk you are able to transfer to your baby since part of it is left inside the nipple shield.
- It can increase the risk of blocked ducts due to poor breast drainage.
- It’s more challenging to breastfeed in public.
- Your baby learns to latch on to the nipple shield instead of your breasts (learned this the hard way).
- Weaning can be oh-so difficult.
Your baby gets used to the nipple shield which is firmer than your nipples. And since the baby is not attached directly, they have no chance to pull out your nipples.
So when I was trying to wean my baby, she just cried and cried coz she couldn’t latch on to my breasts anymore. My nipples just weren’t elongated enough! I had to keep trying for days till she got used to it again. It took so much patience!
What also helped me wean my baby from nipple shields was expressing milk. It helped lengthen my nipples and it helped her to latch on to my breast.
Another thing I didn’t like was that I washed and sterilised my nipple shields after each use. So that took precious time, even late at night and early morning! Apparently, you don’t have to sterilise it after each use. I guess I got so used to how it was taught to me in the hospital and I already felt like a zombie, so I never bothered asking further.
It was such a problem at times when I forgot to change the solution (I used cold sterilisation with Milton tablets), and my baby was already hungry. So I still had to wash the nipple shields and then sterilise it for 15 minutes. Argh! I hated that part!
What I could have done was to simply wash it in cold soapy water after each use and rinse well with hot water. And then I could have just boiled it daily. Much simpler, right? Oh well…
What are the best nipple shields?
Here’s the low-down on nipple shields that I’ve tried:
Average Customer Rank: 4.3 out of 5
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
I also liked that it was small and thin. I just really wish it that it came as a pair. Would’ve been easier given that I was washing it (and even sterilising it) in between feeds.
Average Customer Rank: 4 out of 5
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
This was also the 24mm standard size and I liked that it came as a pair. It is also BPA-free (safe for baby) and the price (considering that it’s already a pair) is not bad.
However, it’s wider and thicker than Medela and wouldn’t really stay in place. I wasn’t too happy with the shape since it was more difficult to have my baby latch to my breast.
How are nipple shields used?
Start by hand expressing a few drops of milk and then smear it outside the nipple shield. This way, your baby can smell your milk and attach easily. Place the nipple shield over your nipple and hold it in place with your fingers.
Then, in the same manner as the correct attachment, have it touch the lips of your baby and wait for a wide-open mouth. Check to see if your baby is sucking and swallowing milk. If your baby is just sucking the nipple, it will hinder the milk flow and may cause decreased milk supply. Make sure that you watch out for your milk supply.
Just to be on the safe side, have your baby weighed at least fortnightly to ensure that they are putting on the right weight.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding with nipple shields or want to leave your own personal review, leave your comment below. I would also love to hear your experiences in using nipple shields.