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Nipple shields are devices that can help with certain breastfeeding problems. A nipple shield looks like a little hat with a brim. Some may have a small hole cut out of the brim, where baby's nose would fit. The crown of the hat fits over the nipple, and the brim lies over the dark area around the nipple (areola). Most nipple shields are made of a soft, thin, flexible silicone.
Nipple shields may be helpful for babies who have trouble sucking, such as:
Premature babies may not have strong suction. They may not be able to latch on as well as full-term babies. Suction is important because it helps the baby get enough of the nipple in his or her mouth. Nipple shields can help premature babies get a better latch and get enough milk.
Nipple shields may also be used when a mother has flat nipples or nipples that point in (inverted) instead of out.
It's important to use a nipple shield correctly. If it isn't used the right way, it could hurt your nipples or your baby may not get enough milk.
The following signs mean you are using the shield correctly:
Nipple shields look simple, but there are some tricks to using them. You can get help from a lactation consultant or another breastfeeding expert. Your hospital, doctor, or midwife can help you find an expert in your area.
A lactation consultant can:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Adaptation Date: 7/16/2019
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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