Whether you’re suffering the agony of a damaged, shredded nipple or struggling with flat or inverted nipples, attaching a hungry newborn to the breast when you’re struggling is one of the first true tests of motherhood as you put your own comfort (and sanity) on the line to feed your baby, despite the pain and/or frustration.
As any expert will tell you, breastfeeding shouldn’t be hard OR painful. When everything is working properly and baby is latching well, the experience should be relatively easy and comfortable. But what about when everything ISN’T working properly? Breastfeeding is a learnt skill. It takes time for both baby and mama to get the hang of what’s going on and while that’s happening, your nipples can become extremely tender making feeding difficult. Flat or inverted nipples can also cause issues as baby struggles to attach to an unfamiliar surface.
Simply put, a nipple shield isa thin flexible silicone cover which a mother places over her nipple prior to breastfeeding. The shield provides a barrier between the nipple and babies mouth meaning it can help when nipples are tender and need to heal or while a baby learns to breastfeed.
When used correctly, a nipple shield can be a total lifesaver for new mums who want to continue feeding but are finding it tough. A nipple shield can give your nipples time to heal while you learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding or provide a firmer, larger target for bubs having trouble with latching.
It’s important to note however that a nipple shield, while useful, can’t solve issues like a poor latch, tongue tie or other concerns like nipple shape or overactive letdown. It is critical to get to the root of the problem with an expert like a lactation consultant for a long term solution and a happy breastfeeding relationship.
Nipple shields are designed to help women who are dealing with specific breastfeeding concerns. They are often used as a temporary solution to help as the concern is rectified and are best used alongside support from a qualified breastfeeding professional, like an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or IBCLC.
Generally, if you need to use a nipple shield, breastfeeding isn’t working as well as it could be and professional help can make all the difference to your breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes, a nipple shield may be the only thing that keeps a mother breastfeeding and that is something we recognize and fully support.
Nipple shields can help with a range of concerns including:
Once again, it’s important to seek help and advice for the above issues to make sure you get to the root of the issue.
Using a nipple shield CORRECTLY is the key to overcoming breastfeeding challenges. Incorrect use can cause a whole range of issues, from more discomfort (no thanks!) to a reduced milk supply.
Not all nipple shields are created equal! It’s important to choose a product that fits well and allows for good milk flow and as much skin to skin contact as possible. The Haakaa Silicone Nipple Shield features a unique shape and ultra- thin design that moulds to your breast for easier latching and a comfortable feeding experience.
The new Haakaa Breastfeeding Nipple Shields (below) feature a world-first design made of 100% soft silicone, with an extended teat that puts space between your nipple and your baby’s mouth. If your little one bites down, pulls away, or if you have inverted or cracked nipples, you will still be able to breastfeed with ease and comfort. Our Nipple Shields suction onto your breast, giving you a hands-free breastfeeding experience.
Nipples come in ALL shapes and sizes. A nipple shield that is too small can be extremely uncomfortable and restrict milk flow, leading to a reduction in milk supply.
Even with a nipple shield to help, ensuring a good latch is important. A good latch means that milk flow and supply won’t be impacted by the shield and helps your baby to develop good habits for if/when you stop using the shield. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has the following advice for using a shield correctly:
Express a few drops of your breastmilk onto the inside of the nipple shield. This will help prevent chafing and improve the seal that the nipple shield makes with your breast.
The Haakaa Breastfeeding Nipple Shield differs from a traditional nipple shield in a couple of key ways. The Breastfeeding Nipple Shield is completely unique in the way it attaches and works. It uses suction to attach to the nipple meaning that the shield stays firmly attached and is less prone to slipping. This is the same way the Haakaa breast pump works to stay attached to the breast.
The Breastfeeding Nipple Shield also features a design that prevents the nipple coming into contact with the shield itself meaning less chance of rubbing or chafing and the innovative shape has proven to be very useful for babies transitioning TO the bottle or FROM the bottle back to the breast.
"Thank you so much for my nipple shield you have given me the chance to breastfeed after to failed attempts with previous children. I was about to give up I was exhausted expressing then I came across your shield. Since it’s arrived I have had baby full time on the breast and no need to use the pump.... have even purchased extra shields now." Ashleigh Haydar
"I purchased the butterfly nipple shield and was impressed with how easy it was to apply and use. My baby who was struggling to latch had no problem feeding with the shield." Natasha Berry
"If you are trying to re-lactate or transition from a bottle and are struggling with traditional shields, these are great. I find it can get a bit tight around the nipple after a while but better than not breastfeeding. It can be easily filled to give bub an instant taste to encourage sucking and the suction helps draw milk into the shield once your flow has started. It has saved breastfeeding for us." Helen Belshaw
Like with anything breastfeeding related, seeking out help and support is always a good idea. A breastfeeding counsellor, lactation consultant or breastfeeding trained midwife can help identify issues and give advice on using a nipple shield.
For more information on products and resources to support your breastfeeding journey, check out our breast care and support section.