1. Using a nipple shield
It is hard for mothers (particular first time new mothers) to figure out all of the ends and outs of parenting a baby, not to mention breastfeeding. Many women struggle with breastfeeding in the beginning, chalking up warning signs to typical breastfeeding challenges. However with breastfeeding we get the best results when issues are corrected promptly! It is best to call a professional for help before the small problem becomes a big problem that will be harder to overcome. For example, a Lactation Consultant should be called if you find yourself using a nipplie shield.
Imagine a mother struggling to latch her newborn onto her breast for the first time. The tired baby continuously slips off of the mother’s “flat nipple.” An attentive nurse gives the mother a nipple shield. She places the thin silicone molding over her nipple. Suddenly, like magic, the baby latches onto the breast and begins sucking! The mother is relieved, and onlookers are overjoyed as the baby breastfeeds. I have seen this scenario more times than I can remember.
Nipple shields are not inherently bad, and there are appropriate times to use them. However, for the majority of women a nipple shield is unnecessary and more trouble than it is worth. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather see a baby breastfeeding with a shield than not breastfeeding at all. The conundrum is many women who initially view the nipple shield as their saving grace in the beginning quickly develop a love/hate relationship with this device. It allows them to breastfeed, but it is tedious. It makes it easier for the baby to latch on, but falls off frequently. The shields also make breastfeeding outside of the home much more challenging. Additionally, a baby will get accustomed to the sensation of the shield, which creates the extra challenge if trying to wean them off.
Many mothers in the hospital are given shields because their breast become edematous due to the IV fluids they are given in labor. This causes once protruding nipples to become flattened, making it much more difficult for the baby to latch and breastfeed. Moreover, when mothers are not using good latch and positioning technique it leaves the baby with an insufficient amount of breast tissue in their mouth to effectively latch. On the contrary, when the long, firm shield is placed in the baby’s mouth they will suck even with a bad latch.
If you find yourself using the nipple shield shortly after the baby is born please contact a Lactation Consultaunt. They will help you determine if a shield is necessary, or if it is just masking a latching technique issue.