Weaning off a nipple shield

Many lactation specialists believe nipple shields are prescribed too often and too soon in the breastfeeding process. In response to a mother who requested support to wean her two month old baby off of using a nipple shield, I researched potential techniques and pointers to support her in the process. Here they are:

In general:

  • Your baby is getting your milk so you are doing great! Be gentle on yourself as a new mom.
  • Figure out what works for YOU! Trust your instincts. Listen to your baby.
  • Relax. 🙂 Be patient and persistent. It may take a week to see results.

Latching with and without the shield:

  • Whenever she will latch without the shield, let her latch. 30 seconds, 5 mins great!! My baby only really feeds for five minutes at a time more often during the day–he is a snacker, but is gaining a half pound a week and sleeping well!
  • Try everyday at every feeding OR try one feeding a day without the shield and increase to two feedings etc..

IMPORTANT: Get a good latch watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox8ht-EVnQA   Wait for a WIDE open mouth and then pull the baby deeply onto the breast pushing with her shoulders.

Make the milk flow well:

  • Massage your breasts
  • Pump a little to get the milk flowing especially if your breasts are full (the baby can’t latch as easy)

IMPORTANT: Use breast compression when the milk flow decreases (around the 5 min mark or before) see this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RymUDeCAt18

Using the shield to help you wean her:

  • Let her use the nipple shield until the milk flows and then remove it
  • OR start her on the breast until she won’t take it anymore and then use the shield
  • REMEMBER to compress the breast to get more milk to flow and make it easier for the baby

Other tricks:

FAQ

Why do some health care practitioners recommend using the shield?
While a nipple shield is useful in some rare situations, many experts agree they are recommended to women too much and too early. Dr. Jack Newman, Canadian breastfeeding expert, states they should be used only when an infant is refusing the breast altogether. He recommends continuing to try to latch while expressing and feeding the baby by cup in the early days.

Why it is a good idea to not use a nipple shield:
The worry is that a nipple shield can cause a decrease in milk production or blocked milk ducts due to the baby not being able to stimulate the breast as much. Many women are concerned it is not natural. Feeding without the nipple shield can be an easier and better experience.

Can women use nipple shields long term?
Though there is a risk of decreased milk production and blocked ducts, and an increased risk of stopping breastfeeding due to the inconvenience of the nipple shield, many mothers nurse for months using them with no problems.

What is the best shield to use?
Use a Medela shield you aren’t already, these are the best. I trust all Medela products (pumps etc.)

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