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Thread: Why are nipple shields so bad?

  1. #1

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    Question Why are nipple shields so bad?

    I've noticed that whenever the topic of nipple shields comes up that people are recommended to only use them on occasion & only if they *really* have to. So it got me to wondering why are they so bad? If you're having trouble with breastfeeding & it's the only way you can feed is that such a problem? Is it difficult to have to use them every time you feed? Is it because of nipple confusion? What if you only ever use them & never the bare nipple, would it matter?

    Sorry for all the questions, I was just thinking & I might need to know this one day


  2. #2

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    I don't really know Sarah. I used them while in hospital with Lindsay and apart from being a nuisance cause they wouldn't stay on properly and he had to draw the nipple in more to be able to get the milk to come out, but maybe those type or problems are why they say don't use them? I know I wouldn't use them again if I could avoid it cause if you come to rely on them, you have to take them everywhere you go too.

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    I used them when I had cracked and bleeding nipples and they were brilliant but the ABA says they reduce your supply and if you use them for a longer time you need to express after each feed. One of the girls at mothers group used them fo months I'll ask her for more details.

  4. #4

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    The idea is nipple shields reduce the amount of stimulation that the nipples receive and can lead to supply issues when used over a period of time.

    However they can be quite useful when used for a short periods to get past a crisis - but preferably with the assistance of a LC for additional strategies.
    :-)

  5. #5

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    I found them easy to position B456 so you prob. did put them on right.

  6. #6

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    I haven't tried using them before, but I've heard too that for some people the lack of stimulation means a reduction in milk. For others, it makes no difference.
    I've also heard of people buying them because they have damaged nipples but they find it still very painful, even through the shield.
    I've also heard that if you wet them first they can stick on better.
    But yeah, I haven't tried them so I haven't any first-hand knowledge

  7. #7

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    I forgot about wetting them first! I kept mine in milton so they were wet when I put them on.

  8. #8

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    Margaret Callaghan a well respected LC here says that it has 30% effect on milk. If you do a search you might be able to find the advice she gave to a mum on BB - I typed in what Margaret suggested her to try.
    Kelly xx

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  9. #9

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    Nipple sheilds saved my bf life! I have 'more flat than not' (!) nipples and tho Caty could latch on she wouldn't stay on and after about 4 rather stressful days of having a midwife out and Caty losing weight she finally said -well, it's a long shot and I don't think it will work, but maybe try some nipple shields - and WOOOHOO it worked.
    I used the Medela ones, they look like a mexican hat, they were hard to get as a lot of chemists don't sell them. They were quite good at staying on. I always had a super super supply of milk so I don't think the sheilds affected that, however it's kinda early days in my bf life so not sure what the long term affect would have been.

    In saying all of that, I was finally able to ditch them about four days ago for good! Or rather, all feeds except the first one of the day as my boobs are quite full and my nipples are more flat than usual.

    I think using them helped my nipples to 'come out' a little as since ditching the sheilds my nipples seem a bit longer - not that I'm getting the measuring tape out!

    Good luck with whatever happens....they may have a bad rap but they certainly saved me from havign to express into a bottle each and every day (not that that's a bad thing at all!).

    Sorry about the long post!

  10. #10

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    They are a godsend if you have a traumatised nipple.
    BUT....

    1) they are a PITA cause you have to clean them all the time, and carry them with you.
    2) Yes they sit on easily to start with, but as soon as bubs pulls off, they come too. So if you have a child like my man tonight, you would be repositioning them 10-15 times each side!!
    3) They reduce sensation, thus lower milk produiction.
    4) They look awful when breastfeeding in public. Very un subtle and undignified
    5) Can cause nipple confusion like dummies or bottle teats.

    Thats it as far as I am concerned... but like I said - they were a life saver!!

  11. #11

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    I'll try and find that post I mentioned, Margaret had an alternative solution for healing those traumatised nipples if anyone is interested, as the person she was helping had really bad damage (its what they see on a daily basis sadly). You can also try to avoid nipple trauma by learning correct attachment or getting help as early as possible, I recommend to all my clients that they get in their own private LC to come to their home when they get home so they can get the best start. Most are confused by the conflicting advice from hospital.
    Kelly xx

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  12. #12

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    Kelly - it was the LC that told me to use the shield finally after trying to work around th trauma for a few days. My GP is brilliant, and even she didn't want me using one, but in the end it was the only thing that could work with my oversupply. I tried to feed off one side predominantly and rest the other nipple, but the ulcer was too bad. Plus expressing wasn't draining the breast properly and it was borderline mastitis!

    It would be interesting to find out alternatives though - hopefully it wont be an issue again. Breastfeeding boobs are much tougher second time around, and after you have a technique that works for your body shape, attachment is heaps easier too

  13. #13

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    ABA say that Nipple shields should only be used as a last resort/tried everything solution. Nipple shields reduce the stimulation at the breast & like Kelly said may reduce your milk supply. Also mothers will often use them with out any help & that can result in further damage to the nipple because the nipple shield rubs.

    Basically ABA's policy on Nipple shields is that they should only be recomended if the mother has had a face to face consult with an LC or ABA Counsellor, Discused all other alternatives, both mother & baby have been medically examined, & the pro's & con's of usin gthe nipple shield have been dicused & understood.

  14. #14

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    I have to say that while nipple shields were a PITA, they were also a life saver. Jack had a tongue-tie and was unable to attach without them. He was 3 weeks old before we found out that his tongue-tie was the reason he couldn't attach (before that I was told that he had the tongue-tie but that my nipples were the problem). Once we fixed the tongue-tie we never looked back. However until then, without the nipple shields I would have been doing what I had to do for 2 days - pumping and feeding EBM in a bottle. And that was a much bigger PITA than using the shields!

    Jack put on 400g in the first week I used the shields and 300g each other week. I hate to think how much milk I would have had if the shields reduced my milk supply by 30%! In fact this time around I didn't need the shields and I don't think I had any more milk than I did before. I am convinced that nipple shields do not necessarily reduce supply. Certainly they probably do in many cases, but I don't think it's a given. I say this from first hand experience, and also from knowing others who managed to keep up their supply using shields long term.

  15. #15
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    Well if they reduce supply by 30% I would hate to see my supply if I wasn't using a shield!!! Hehehe. I have used a shield now for 6 months! We're doing well. I have a lot of milk. I can collect about 50ml just from my initial let down. I have never expressed in my life.

    I first used a shield on Day 1 or Day 2 in hospital because of a blister on my nipple (left side). Then when my milk came in a MW suggested I use the shield to help Cooper attach as I had flat nipples and with my breasts being so engorged it was nearly impossible for Cooper to attach (like trying to attach to a brick wall!). When he was just having the colostrum we were both going great guns with attachment etc. I sort of wish a LC had helped me try BFing with the shield. Although I'm pretty sure it was a LC who spoke to me on my last day in the hospital and she told me not to worry and that she had known of women who used a shield for 4 months or so. Anyway now I'm one of those women!!!

    Every now and then I try feeds without the shield (later in the day is better when my breasts aren't so full). Like chocolatecatty said, the first feed of the day is hard because your breasts are so full (Cooper sleeps about 11 hours at night).

    Sometimes Cooper can attach but other times he gets frustrated and he never opens his mouth wide enough etc. So it's just easier to use the shield. Although obviously I wish I didn't need to use it. It's just one extra thing to have to carry around etc. I probably should have called a LC in the first few weeks at home but never did. Now it's sort of too late I think??? I'm jealous of you chocolatecatty for ditching them. Perhaps I should try a bit harder?!

    Fi listed some good points. For me #4 is the worst part! I don't feed in public. I use parents rooms etc. Although I will feed in front of some friends and of course family etc.

    I would say poor Cooper probably has a bit of nipple confusion!!! But anyway the shield is working as Cooper is a healthy, chubby boy who has always stacked the weight on. I have never expressed and Cooper has never had a bottle.

  16. #16

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    Hey Fiona, don't be jealous - I'll be the one with nipple trauma!
    It was interesting...the day I tried I had been reading some Psalms and I prayed a bit of one 'I have cried out by day and by night before You, let my prayer come before You, incline Your ear to my prayer....I hate these nipple sheilds, You know I do, please help us feed without them' and then to my great suprise (ha, yeah I know, not much faith here!) we fed! Not that prayer is magic, but I reakon God heard and said 'yep, I'm sick of seeing you get so grumpy, let's lose your shields!'.
    Anyways, bit of a tangent...

  17. #17

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    At the end of the day I would rather see a women BFing with a nipple shield then not BFing at all.

  18. #18

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    Well that's exactly it, FJ.

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