Nursing bra for mothers and Silicon nipples. moms bra with new disposable breast pad. Prevents the flow of milk on the clothes, it is convenient to unfasten the cups for feeding the baby.
Last updated: June 22, 2020

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Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things to do on this planet, so why can it be a lot harder than what you thought? Don’t despair, it is not uncommon to experience problems which can be very frustrating to mothers that they are unable to feed their baby. In many cases, nipple shields can be a great help. Having said that, it is also important to consult with a specialist before using nipple shields, as everyone is different.

Nipples shields are available in different sizes and thicknesses to allow them to adapt as well as possible to the nipple. They are made of silicone to protect the nipple so mother and baby can experience this truly wonderful natural experience.

First things first

  • Nipple shields protect the nipple and help solve many issues which can occur when breastfeeding, such as cracks in the nipple or the baby failing to latch properly, promoting successful breastfeeding.
  • The most important thing to consider when buying this helpful accessory is the the model you buy must be the right size and fit to ensure it will be secure and effective.
  • Nipple shields are made mainly of silicone, as this material allows them to be thin, soft and easy to place. When feeding, it will allows you to bond with your baby.

The best nipple shields on the UK market

There are a wide range of brands and types of nipple shields on the market, so it is vital to find the one which is right for you. Following are the best and most popular models, with their features and assets so you can decide which is best suited to your particular case:

Medela Contact Nipple Shields with Case

The Medela nipple shields come in different sizes: small, medium and large and can help soothe sore and cracked nipples when breastfeeding. They allow maximum contact between mother and baby due to the specially formed contour. They’re made from ultra thin, soft silicone which is odourless and tasteless for your baby.

2 nipple shields are included along with a convenient case for hygienic storage. They come highly recommended by consumers who say they are a lifesaver for cracked/sore nipples, they’re easy to use and easy to clean.

NUK Barely There Nipple Shield with Case

The NUKÂ Nipple Shield has a unique natural shape that maximizes mother-baby contact while protecting sensitive nipples. The super-soft silicone clings to the breast and has soft nodules for gentle stimulation. This is a good priced product that comes with a hygienic storage case.

There are many reviews on Amazon which you can browse to see if this is the product is for you, there are many positive reviews with one consumer saying the nipple shield is very thin and pliable and that the shield stayed in place throughout the shifting and movement of her baby during feeding.

MAM Nipple Shield

This is a pack of 2 MAM nipple shields that are designed to be used when you have sore or cracked nipples; they protect nipples during breastfeeding and allow you to breastfeed for longer. They are made from extremely soft, extra-thin, flexible silicone and have a “breast-like” feel.

They are specially shaped to allow your baby to have skin contact with you while breastfeeding. This allows baby to feel and smell you and continue to stimulate your milk supply while suckling. Your baby will easily return to your breast once your nipples are healed. The nipple shields come packed in a fully sterilisable travel case.

Philips AVENT SCF156/01 Standard Nipple Protectors

A well known product on the market, Philips AVENT has been designing and manufacturing products that are inspired by nature since 1984. Many reviews are available with over 50% of consumers rating the product with 5 stars.

These Avent Nipple Protectors provide relief for sore or cracked nipples during breastfeeding. They are made of ultra-fine, soft odourless, taste-free silicone so feel as natural as possible to your baby and you. Their butterfly-shape allows your baby more contact with the breast and your baby can still feel and smell the mother’s skin which will continue to stimulate milk supply whilst suckling, and will return easily to the breast once nipples are healed.

Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields

This company has been around for more than 30 years and was founded by a breastfeeding mum. This product is trusted by mums and healthcare professionals to provide safe effective breastfeeding. The nipple shields are designed for maximum skin to skin contact which are made from ultra-thin, super-soft, flexible, odourless and taste free silicone.

They are supplied with a hygienic and convenient storage case that can be taken anywhere with ease. They are available in small, medium and large and can help to overcome nipple soreness offering relief from sore and cracked nipples.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about nipple shields

This device can really be a huge comfort to mothers who are becoming desperate to solve the problems she and her baby are experiencing in breast-feeding. Over time, nipple shields have really evolved, becoming almost like a second skin. This enables you to have a positive breastfeeding experience. Continue reading whilst we take a closer look at these helpful products.

breastfeeding. mother holding newborn in embrace and breastfeed

This tool should be placed on the centre of the nipple to allow your baby to feed.
(Source: Evgeny Atamanenko: 50932783/ 123rf.com)

What are nipple shields exactly?

The nipple shield does exactly what it says, it shields the nipple when you are breastfeeding. They are normally made from silicone and are extremely thin to allow skin-to-skin contact with your little one. The nipple shields are placed on the nipple in order to fit well on the areola, creating a suction cup which prevents it from moving.

Nipple shields are used when there are problems with breastfeeding. As a first step, you should always see a specialist, as everyone’s situation is individual. The problem may be that your baby prefers the bottle, that the nipple is injured, or that your baby is not strong enough because it is premature.

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers

“Nipple shields can help establish breastfeeding with some babies who seem to have difficulty achieving and/or maintaining attachment to the breast. Please consult a breastfeeding counsellor or health professional for one-to-one support before you use a nipple shield”.

What are nipple shields made of?

Many years ago, nipple shields were somewhat frowned upon, and they were actually not recommended. This was mainly due to the materials used to make them, which was glass, ivory and silver. Moving with the times and making this product more natural, manufacturers began using rubber and latex to make them, however, these materials were very thick and hard.

These days they are made exclusively of silicone, making them soft, thin and malleable. This makes them easy to attach and stay in place making breastfeeding feel as natural as can be. It also means the nipple shields should not alter the production of milk or interfere with breastfeeding. They can even be used with premature babies.

Young mother holding her newborn child. Mom nursing baby. Woman and new born boy in white bedroom with rocking chair and blue crib. Nursery interior. Mother playing with laughing kid. Family at home

Nipple shields can be a great help to first time mothers.
(Source: Famveldman: 54640069/ 123rf.com)

How do you use nipple shields?

Although it’s fairly easy to use a nipple shield, it is important to position them well so that they do not move and therefore cause problems such as creating air pockets, stopping the baby from latching on, or having them fall off part way through the process. Improper placement can also cause discomfort and pain for the mother.

This device, first of all, must be washed with soap and water before each use. Then, it should be placed on the nipple and the areola, with the sides bending a little, placing the protector so that it seals well and creates a vacuum. Once done, the liner should not move, and should be like a second skin.

For how long should you use nipple shields?

When it comes to how long to use these objects, there are some discrepancies. At the moment, experts recommend using them as a temporary device for as short a time as possible. This is because it is better to use the natural method of breastfeeding whenever possible. It is also easier for the mother to not have to worry about moving the shields from one side to another.

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers recommends to place your baby in skin to skin contact well before you attempt a feed. This will stimulate baby’s instinctive feeding behaviours and make attachment to the breast more likely to be successful.

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Your baby might be more receptive to feeding without the shield when they are less hungry or sleepy.

When should you use nipple shields?

Normally, the use of this device is linked to certain problems when it comes to breastfeeding. Some of the common issues are that the baby has problems learning to breastfeed, that they reject the breast after having started mixed breastfeeding, that the baby is premature, and that pain is experienced during breastfeeding.

However, it should be noted that you should always consult with a paediatrician, doctor or lactation professional if you are experiencing any of these problems. Nipple shields can often be a useful tool to help achieve latching, produce the necessary milk and finally find success in breastfeeding.

Peaceful loving young African mother sitting on bed and leaning on headboard while feeding baby with breast

Nipple shields are often the way to make breastfeeding work well.
(Source: : Konstantin Pelikh: 123550779/ 123rf.com)

What advantages are there of using nipple shields?

There are a range of professional and personal opinions when it comes to this breastfeeding accessory. Some strongly support its use, since it allows many mothers to be able to breastfeed their babies who may not be able to otherwise. We have collected some of its advantages, which you can see in the following list:

  • They allow the baby to latch onto the nipple more easily.
  • They protect the nipple from bites when the baby has teeth.
  • The milk comes out more easily and the baby learns to feed more quickly.
  • They limit pain and discomfort during breastfeeding.
  • They allow the little one to breastfeed if they are accustomed to the bottle.

Shopping Criteria

When buying a nipple shield, it is important to keep a few things in mind. These notions will allow us to find the best option for our baby and find a safe and quality item. Below, you will find the key things to take into account:

Materials

As we have already seen, there has been a large variety of materials used in the past, but the one that gives the best results at present is without a doubt silicone. The material of which the shield is made is fundamental. It is imperative that it is of high quality. The material will affect how the device performs, which will make it more or less comfortable as well as effective.

Silicone is a harder material, hypoallergenic and considered the best since it allows a lesser thickness, creating very thin and flexible shields, being comfortable for the mother since they adhere more easily to the breast, and allowing greater contact with the baby, being more difficult to reject them.

World Health Organisation

“The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the introduction of age-appropriate foods thereafter, and the maintenance of breastfeeding up to 2 years or more”.

Size

This criterion is probably the most important. Usually shields are available in Small, Medium and Large. We can also buy them by millimetres, which is much more precise, as we can take measurements of the nipples to be sure to purchase the right size.

In contrast, there are also standard models, for medium-sized nipples. You can trying buying a standard fit, but it is recommended to be as precise in your sizing as possible. Being the right size will determine whether or not the baby will be able to feed. If this item is too large, it will move around and breastfeeding simply won’t work. Therefore, it is essential to find a model that gives us a choice between several sizes to be able to find the right one.

Thickness

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural process that creates a bond between mother and baby. Therefore, it is important that the liner is the minimum thickness which will let you feel skin with skin to the baby. This will also facilitate better adherance since the being smaller it will be able to hold on well. Silicone materials mean they can be made very thin.

Young beautiful mother, breastfeeding her newborn baby boy at night, dim light. Mom breastfeeding infant

The shield must be the correct size so that your baby can latch effectively.
(Source: Tatyana Tomsickova: 94504799/ 123rf.com)

Fit

It’s crucial to ensure the correct fit in order to deliver successful results. This where where the material and  its thickness comes into play, since it is necessary that this device makes a suction cup on the areola and which stops it from moving. It must be placed in the centre of the nipple to allow the baby to feed.

Quality-price ratio

Of course, this is something which is important to many families. When talking about nipple shields and all the problems that can be solved, the first thing parents wonder is what it will cost to get the baby to breastfeed properly. Fortunately, these accessories are usually not very expensive, you can find them between £6 and £10 and they usually give satisfactory results.

Summary

Nipple shields are increasingly being used today because thanks to their superior design these days, they are able to solve many problems in breastfeeding. These devices adapt to the nipple and areola and create a protective layer, their main function being to protect the nipple.

In breastfeeding, it is absolutely normal to encounter challenges, but all we want is to feed our baby well. Some common problems include the baby being premature or does not learn to breastfeed and quite commonly the nipple cracks. Previously, nipple shields were made of glass, ivory or rubber, nowadays silicone is used, which is much finer and softer.

We hope that this article has helped you decide whether to use nipple shields, you can leave any questions in the comments!

(Source of the featured image: Aleksandra Kuznecova: 81360756/ 123rf.com)

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