Breastfeeding Norfolk Blog

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A Word or Two about Nipple Shields

Nikki Adlam

Hi – Jan here.

I’ve been meaning for a while to try to say a few lines about nipple shields; yes, I dared to speak the name! Over the years I’ve moved from being very anti - even purist in my thinking, to quite a pragmatist about said items. When I first starting supporting mums with breastfeeding, nipple shields (said it again) were thick old things and a very popular brand was an attractive dark orangey colour and known colloquially as Mexican Hats – and all on the market were ENORMOUS!! This was some time ago, and they have improved in the silicone material used and are pretty thin too, and although still not perfect come in different sizes.  Some even have cut away areas for the lower and upper lip to make contact with the mum to help get the best stimulation of oxytocin to encourage the milk ejection reflex (let-down reflex) via the mum’s areolae. Mums still should expect each breastfeed to take a bit longer than skin to skin breastfeeding, but nothing like as long as with those old shields. When mums are discharged after delivery already using shields either because her baby doesn’t seem to be able to attach, or because of her very sore nipples, this is not second class breastfeeding, and simpler than giving expressed breastmilk either in a cup or bottle which is like she’s feeding twice. Having said that; most mums wish to breastfeed without shields and try very hard to achieve this. Little wonder really when a lot of babies seem to do a combination of pulling them off, latching on very tightly, and getting cross at having to wait to feed while their mums’ get them in place.  Breastfeeding when out and about can seem really tricky too.  Shields have their uses, particularly as an interim measure to reassure a baby to breastfeed when there’s been a period of expressed breastmilk / formula bottle feeding. If you or anyone you know would like some help and ideas concerning shields, or any reason needing support then West Pottergate Breastfeeding Support Centre is open each Thursday 10.00-12.00, Norwich, NR2 4BX. Private consultations are also available.  then West Pottergate Breastfeeding Support Centre is open each Thursday 10.00-12.00, NR2 4BX. Private consultations are also available.