What is a nipple shield and when should you use one?
I recently wrote this blog post for the beautiful team at Haakaa and wanted to share it with you all. A lot of mamas have never heard of or seen a nipple shield, and as with everything, I think education is important, even if you may not use one on your feeding journey.
Haakaa has also given me a 15% off sitewide discount code for you all if you all. Use code: Bumpnbub15
There are so many reasons a mother may require a nipple shield. The most common reasons are:
To both protect and allow the nipples to heal if they are damaged or sore;
Allow a baby to latch easier if they are premature or small;
To help mamas with inverted or flat nipples whose babies are having trouble latching effectively.
It is important to remember that your journey is completely unique. Every woman's body and every baby is different. As a midwife, I have seen women with inverted nipples and premature babies who have been able to feed successfully without a nipple shield. However, I have also seen how incredibly helpful and transformative a nipple shield can be in enabling and supporting a mum and baby's breastfeeding journey when there are difficulties.
We know that sometimes on your breastfeeding journey, your nipples and areola can become sore and damaged. This can happen with either a poor latch, if bub bites down when teething or if you have been feeding non-stop around the clock (hello #mumlife). The Haakaa nipple shields allow space between the nipple and bubs mouth meaning that you can continue to feed with ease (and without that toe-curling pain) while your nipples recover.
Another common reason, often in the early days of breastfeeding, that mamas will use a nipple shield is to assist with inverted or flat nipples, where bub is struggling to attach. It is estimated that over 10% of women will have flat or inverted nipples (however, not all these women will require a nipple shield), and it is something I see very regularly as a midwife.
Using a nipple shield allows a larger area for your baby to latch on, meaning it is often easier to get an effective and productive latch. During the feed, the nipple is often drawn out. Haakaa’s nipple correctors are also great for inverted or flat nipples as well, I will link them here if you want to take a look!
Another reason that nipple shields are commonly used is for premature babies who are often smaller than babies born at full term. A nipple shield can help make the latching process easier for these little bubs. If your baby is in the NICU, you will likely have access to a lactation consultant who will be able to help guide you through this.
Why am I so obsessed with the Haakaa nipple shield?
Here are a few reasons:
I have seen the incredible results nipple shields have yielded for so many women around the world, allowing a breastfeeding experience that many mamas may not have otherwise been able to experience
They are 100% food-grade silicone. I love the fact that a baby is NOT sucking on plastic! Silicone also means they are made from an eco-friendly and sustainable material which is so important.
The nipple shield can put physical space between your nipple and baby's mouth, which can be a lifesaver when your nipples are very sore and damaged.
Haakaa has a variety of shapes and bases, meaning mamas can pick what's best for them and their journey.
Breastfeeding is a learnt skill, so nipple shields are often a short term solution, meaning that once bub is older and has learnt how to latch effectively, they can likely attach without the aid of a shield. This also goes for mums using shields for damaged or sore nipples. Once the latch is corrected, the shields give your nipples time to heal whilst being able to continue breastfeeding your baby.
As a midwife, I would recommend using a nipple shield in conjunction with advice and guidance from a lactation consultant or midwife, to ensure an adequate latch and a personalised plan for you and bubby. This will also help you feel that you are not alone and there is help for you whenever you need.
Remember to use my code to get an amazing discount on all things Haakaa!
Shop now: www.haakaa.co.nz