Becoming a new mom is beautiful and exciting, but it can be tough. Motherhood is full of questions, doubts, mistakes, and decisions. One of the most addressed question after childbirth is breastfeeding. Every new mom can decide whether she wants to breastfeed or not. It can be an exhausting experience, but the benefits are HUGE. Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthiest form of nutrition for newborns and infants. Mother’s milk is known to have a unique mix of nutrients and antibodies, that are made explicitly for the needs of her baby. Breastfeeding is also a social activity, which is proven to develop a powerful and unique relationship between a mother and a baby (even when the baby bites you, kicks and refuses to eat). Ah, yes, those wonderful motherhood moments are priceless.
As much as breastfeeding is natural, it is not intuitive. Support from the loved ones, sleeping enough, and balanced nutrition are a good ground to start from. But It’s not enough to really, really want to breastfeed. Even though determination and self-confidence go a long way, every mom can face obstacles that will make breastfeeding hard or near impossible to do. Two types of nipples can make breastfeeding challenging – flat nipples and inverted ones. Both can make it difficult for the baby to latch on. Baby’s secure latch or biting can make nipples sore and cracked. Some women can also experience overactive let-down. You might lactate too much, or too fast, which will seem like a high-pressure milk hose that baby can’t control. This can cause the baby to refuse to eat, which can ultimately lead to losing milk supply. What an irony!
In these situations, nipple shields can make breastfeeding process more mom-friendly. A nipple shield is made out of a thin silicone or latex, and it can be the first line of defense… for your nipples. They are designed to reduce or resolve problems such as latching on, breasts soreness, or flat or inverted nipples. Sometimes, it can even ease the transition between a breast and a bottle. The nipple shield is centered over the mother’s nipple and areola. Their use can encourage a better latch, more effective sucking, and far better milk intake for some babies, while it keeps the baby bites away!
Different types of nipple shields can suit different women’s needs depending on the size of the breast and type of nipples and can give an overall breastfeeding satisfaction. Here is a list of some of the best nipple shields you can get.
Medela Nipple Shields
Medela designed their shields to help mothers continue breastfeeding for as long as they choose to do so. The unique shape of the nipple shield allows more skin-to-skin contact between you and your little one. This maximizes and promotes the bonding experience that breastfeeding provides. This brand offers a range of available sizes – 16mm being small, 20mm medium and 24mm large size. Therefore, you can easily find the most comfortable one, or change the size if it feels too tight or too loose. The downside is that you get only one in your order (there are no spare ones!) and they come without a bag to store them.
Phthalate Free, Latex Free, BPA Free
100% ultra-thin, soft and safe silicone
3 sizes available (16mm, 20mm, 24mm in diameter)
1 piece of nipple shields
Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield
With the slogan ‘If you’re not happy, we’re not happy.’, this brand offers a more personal approach when promoting their product. Purifoy makes it clear that they support a natural breastfeeding lifestyle where it is possible. It isdesigned to adhere to the mommy’s breasts as most natural as possible, while helping your baby get the nutrients she needs. The shields come in a set of three . You can always have one on standby in the house, in the car, or even at Grandma’s. All three come in a convenient soft cotton drawstring bag which can be reusable. Purifoy sells shield cases, for storing the nipple shields longer (sold separately), but they can fit most pacifier cases.
nNn-toxic, BPA Free, BPS Free, latex-free, phthalate-free, lead-free
one size available – 20mm (0.78 inch) in diameter
set of 3 nipple shields
+ soft cotton drawstring bag
+ 30-day money-back guarantee
Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield
Lansinoh designed their nipple shields from ultra-thin, soft, and flexible silicone to provide maximum comfort. It is a useful tool to address short term latch-on issues related to premature, small, or ill infants. It helps with flat or inverted nipples, tongue tie, lip tie, or overactive let-down. And, their 30 years’ experience makes you feel confident in using their products. They advertise multiple sizes to fit all moms, with two different sizes (20mm and 24mm). They come in a protective case for hygienic and convenient storage to keep them clean and sturdy enough throughout one’s breastfeeding journey.
BPA and BPS free
ultra-thin, soft and flexible silicone
2 sizes available (20mm, 24mm in diameter)
set of 2 nipple shields
+ protective case
Philips Avent Comfort Breast Shell Set
Philips designed ultra-comfortable breast shells, an innovative solution to easier nurse your baby. An assembly breast shell with ultra-soft backing cushions gives you ultimate comfort. Massage bumps in the center gently massages and applies light pressure around the areola, which makes it more comfortable to breastfeed. Cushions fit both non-ventilated and ventilated shells.
An ideal solution for those with extremely sore and very painful breasts. And these do the same thing for half the cost of other brands on the market. The ventilated shells help to keep nipples dry and reduce the irritation. Both shells can serve for storing milk but pay more attention to the ventilation ones. Milk might spill if you fall asleep and turn over. When you want to save every last drop of breast milk, this product is a great choice. The shells allow you to use them while pumping, too!
Phthalate Free, Latex Free, Lead-Free, BPA Free
1 size (10 mm in diameter)
2 ventilated breast shells,
2 non-ventilated breast milk saver shells,
2 ultra-soft backing cushions
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When Should I Use A Nipple Shield?
There are several situations where nipple shields can be worn to release some of the breastfeeding pain that you will encounter in the first weeks of breastfeeding:
– when the level of soreness and pain are especially high
– when having flat or inverted nipples
– when baby has difficulties to latch on, has an overbite or bites too hard when teething.
– when managing overactive let-down.
Does A Nipple Shield Help with Pain?
In cases of severe soreness or significant engorgement, nipple shields can help relieve the pain. With their gentle pressure on the areola, they make it easier for the mother to produce milk and continue to breastfeed. Some babies latch to hard, have an overbite, or simply bite when they start teething.
Luckily, a nipple shield can prevent any nipple catastrophe that might happen with a growing baby. Their position ensures no direct contact between the baby and your sore breast while nursing. However, experience has shown that nipple shields might not work for every mother, so do not be too dissapointed if you still have pain. You will have to call a lactation consultant who will teach you the proper latching techniques. You will also have to be patient and give yourself time to recover.
How Do I Measure the Size of My Nipple for A Shield?
To find a perfect size for your nipple shields, you have to measure the diameter of your nipples. If your nipples measure a16mm in diameter, your recommended breast shield size is 21mm. The 21mm shield fits nipples up to 17mm in diameter. If your nipple diameter measures 20mm, your recommended size would be 24 mm. In cases where you have flat nipples and big areolas, it’s recommended to use larger sizes.
How Should I Make Nipple Shields Clean?
Nipple shields are very easy to hand wash. You can rinse them with warm soapy water, or you can sterilize them while boiling in hot water. A hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher should also do the trick! Experience has shown that even after a year of washing it, no wear and tear of the shields were noticed.
Being able to breastfeed your baby is a tremendous ability and a gift. But every mother and baby are different, and every journey has its tolls. Nipple shields are a great support to relieve pain, collect excess milk, manage an overactive let-down, and even transition to the bottle. It is a must-have product to survive the painful and stressful times while breastfeeding.
However, you should know that in some cases, breastfeeding while using nipple shields can reduce milk supply. Therefore, it should be a short-term solution to allow baby to nurse while your sore nipples recover. You should always go back to natural breastfeeding when you feel comfortable and healed. Moms with flat or inverted nipples should breastfeed often enough to keep their milk supply at a high peak.
Nipple shields are not recommended to practice from day one, nor to be used exclusively, but rather carefully and to a reasonable extent. Sometimes, the soreness and pain are so severe that even a nipple shield can do so little. As hard as it may be, remember that breastfeeding isn’t the only way to provide nutrition and build a close relationship with your child. Bonding and connections will strengthen every time you touch and hold your baby, talk, sing, comfort her, and even feed her with a bottle. To raise a happy and healthy child is to show them every day a happy and healthy mom that hugs and smiles a lot.