Breastfeeding with Nipple Shields – Yey or Nay?

nipple shieldsHave you ever heard of nipple shields? Or have you ever tried breastfeeding with nipple shields? If you ever experienced poor attachment, then you’ve probably seen this at the very least.

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! 🙂

nipple shieldNipple shields are thin, flexible silicone covers applied to your nipple and areola while you are breastfeeding. It is suggested to be used when you have difficulty with attachment.

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:

medela nipple shieldMedela Contact Nipple Shield

Price: $6.30
Average Customer Rank: 4.3 out of 5
Where to Buy:

Highly RecommendedThis is the 24mm standard size that was given to me in the hospital. I honestly LOVE it! Its unique shape allowed more skin-to-skin contact with my baby. And it has no BPA, so it’s safe!

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.

avent nipple shieldsPhilips Avent Nipple Protector

Price: $6.28

Average Customer Rank: 4 out of 5

Where to Buy:

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.


  1. Misty Marchione says:

    I say Yay! I wish I had these when my daughter was a baby. I had so much trouble breastfeeding with her right from the start. These nipple shields would have been a life saver! I would cry it hurt so bad sometimes. There may be some downsides to this product, but overall using this is better than not breastfeeding at all. I am definitely going to recommend this product to any new moms that I know are breastfeeding.

    • Raquel says:

      Thank you Misty! Feel free to recommend this to other mommas. If you’ve tried everything, and it still hurts like no other, there’s nothing to lose to try nipple shields. You don’t have to wear it for long. Just get your bearings right and you won’t have to cry anymore because it’s just so painful. Just keep on practicing the right attachment.

  2. Vena Semprie says:

    It’s been a long time since I breast fed my babies. Back in the day I do not believe nipple shields were available. I remembered the sore nipples and probably would try them then.

    I believe it’s a good idea if they work for you and your baby.

    • Raquel says:

      Hi Vena. Thank goodness indeed that it is available nowadays. It is such a big help if you’ve exhausted all possible means. It’s a great thing to keep you going especially when you feel like giving up since your nipples can’t seem to take it anymore. Its awesome that you continued to breastfeed your babies at the time, despite the sore nipples. 🙂

  3. Theresa says:

    It’s amazing what new products they have for breastfeeding mothers! My daughter had trouble latching because she stuck her tongue out all the time and just wanted to push everything out instead of pulling it in. I’m not sure these would have helped with her, but I’m definitely going to mention this to my sister-in-law so that she can try it with her next baby.

    Sounds like it would really help in certain situations. You make some great points about not using them all the time. I probably would have used them all the time like you if they worked.

    • Raquel says:

      I wonder how you went about latching with your daughter considering the challenge you mentioned.

      Yeah, it might come in handy for your sister-in-law. Not everyone uses nipple shields, but in case the situarion calls for it, why not? It really is an awesome little thing and works wonders. And yes, it is recommended for temporary use. Thanks Theresa!

  4. fmwaniki says:

    Hi Raquel,i am happy with the useful information you are offering in this site.I have heard of these nipple shields but i must say i have never used them.I believe they are of great use to those mothers with sore breasts.I would also recommend using them for a short time as possible and when the problem is over they be avoided.This is because babies need to learn how to attach fully on mothers’ breast for it promotes bonding.

    • Raquel says:

      Yes, I’m with you. Weaning a baby from nipple shields will take a while. You have to keep on trying every feed. It also helps, in my experience, to pump. This way your nipples can be pulled out and your baby will eventually be able to feed on your breasts directly.

  5. Zhanna says:

    Dear Raquel,
    I have 3,5 y.o. daughter and I finished brestfeeding just 1 year ago. I should say that I used Medela Contact Nipple Shield and it was my rescue. I have very sensitive skin and without nipple shields feeding was very painful.
    The best ever creation for mamas. It is truth.

  6. Kams says:

    Thanks for this informative article. I tried using nipple shields when I had cracked nipples, but they didn’t relieve the pain at all. I ended up developing a breast abscess and had to be operated in the end. Perhaps I didn’t use the right shields, I remember they were very very thin.
    A friend of mine also started using shields when she had cracked nipples at the beginning and she ended up using them all year because her daughter didn’t want to suck her nipple!
    I’ll bookmark your review for future, in case I have another baby:)

    • Raquel says:

      So sorry to hear about what happened to you. Did you have mastitis? Breast abcess is usually due to some bacterial infection. I’d be happy to help if you have another baby and when you decide to give it another try. 🙂

  7. RuthM says:

    I tried nipple shields when I was breastfeeding, for a very different reason, but I found them really really weird. They are WAY too big and my baby couldn’t latch on. They must have felt really weird in her mouth too as they are so plasticy. Well this was a while ago, maybe things have changed.

    Do they make them in different sizes within each brand, because the ones I used were like bottles, and I don’t anyone who has nipples like that! Or is it just one size per brand? I like your suggestions, I have never seen them.

    • Raquel says:

      Hi Ruth. Can’t blame you, it does feel weird at the start. Not sure what brand you used, but if its like a bottle teat, that’s not good. I wouldn’t use that either.

      If you look at Medela Contact Nipple Shield, Medium, there are different sizes. The standard size is 24mm (medium), there’s also 20mm (small), and 16mm (extra small). I used 24mm and it was perfect for me.

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