Finding the devices and support you need can be challenging as a new mother who nurses. Here, we explore the uses of a nipple shield to help your journey.
A breastfeeding journey is nothing short of beautiful, exhausting, memorable, and sometimes uncomfortable. Regardless of how long the journey lasts, mothers often find themselves turning to a variety of useful tools and devices for support and resolution. One of the most common devices is a nipple shield, which has many uses and purposes while breastfeeding.
Latch Guidance in the Early Days
The early days of a breastfeeding journey come with a lot of learning and growth for the mother and the baby. When the mother is trying to establish valuable bonding techniques and find methods that work best for them, they may find that a nipple shield is beneficial in helping their baby latch.
While you shouldn’t turn to a nipple shield as a long-term solution, using it as a short-term teaching aid is an excellent option. The stableness of a shield can help you home in on the baby’s position to ensure they securely wrap around the areola and keep their nose and chin in the right places. Without this little teaching aid, you may experience poor latching techniques that lead to discomfort.
It’s essential to note that not every mother needs a nipple shield to ensure a proper latch, and your baby may provide a few signs to help you gauge their progress.
You Delivered Prematurely
Understandably, a premature delivery will cause a lot of concern for a mother who wishes to breastfeed her baby right after birth. The most common obstacle with breastfeeding premature babies is that they lack the strength to suckle from their mother’s breasts. Adding a nipple shield helps you create a stronger, more sturdy latch for the baby, and with enough sessions, they can slowly develop the strength to nurse without one.
When you remove the nipple shield will depend on your assessment of your baby, their strength, and their existing nursing capabilities.
Oral Tie Issues Creating Latching Difficulties
Sometimes, a baby is born with a shortened or tightened frenulum. This can cause an oral tie in the form of a tongue or lip tie. You and your baby’s care provider will address the oral tie when the time is right, and you can continue breastfeeding, pending you don’t experience immense discomfort. A nipple shield can help guide your baby’s mouth and tongue to the correct latch positions and mitigate the issues until you and the provider determine the best next steps.
You Are Experiencing Cracked and Sore Nipples
Cracked and sore nipples can happen at any time in a breastfeeding journey, and one of the most common uses for a nipple shield is providing a protective barrier to help mitigate these issues. You may turn to a nipple shield until your nipples heal from existing damage and consider applying a nipple balm or ointment to aid in this process.
It may only take a day or two before you feel relief. In the meantime, work on your baby’s latching techniques with the shield to ensure you don’t experience cracked or sore nipples in the future.
Consult a licensed lactation consultant if you’re struggling and need more guidance than a nipple shield can offer. It’s essential to seek the assistance you deserve at any time.