Do babies feed longer with nipple shield?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

When using a nipple shield, it is important to be aware that feeds may take longer for your baby to finish compared to direct breastfeeding. This is because milk flow can be slower when using a nipple shield. The shield can act as a barrier between the breast and your baby’s mouth, causing a slight delay in milk transfer.

To ensure that your baby is getting enough milk and your breasts are being well drained, it may be necessary to express for a few minutes after each feed. This helps to stimulate milk production and ensure that your breasts are emptied effectively.

Here are some tips for using nipple shields effectively:

1. Get the right size: It is important to choose the correct size of nipple shield for your breast and baby’s mouth. A shield that is too small may not cover the entire areola, leading to ineffective milk transfer. On the other hand, a shield that is too large may cause discomfort for both you and your baby. Experiment with different sizes to find the best fit.

2. Positioning: Proper positioning is crucial when using a nipple shield. Ensure that your baby’s mouth is wide open with their lips flanged outward, just like in regular breastfeeding. The shield should be centered over your nipple and areola, allowing your baby to latch onto it effectively.

3. Milk flow: As mentioned earlier, milk flow can be slower when using a nipple shield. It is important to be patient and allow your baby to nurse at their own pace. Avoid rushing the feeding process, as this can lead to frustration for both you and your baby.

4. Monitor milk intake: Keep an eye on your baby’s diaper output and weight gain to ensure they are getting enough milk. If you notice any signs of inadequate milk intake, such as fewer wet diapers or poor weight gain, consult with a lactation consultant or healthcare provider for further guidance.

5. Seek support: If you are experiencing difficulties with using a nipple shield, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, and online forums can provide valuable guidance and advice. They may be able to help troubleshoot any issues you are facing and offer suggestions for improving your breastfeeding journey with a nipple shield.

Using a nipple shield can result in longer feeding times for your baby. However, with proper positioning, patience, and support, you can make breastfeeding with a nipple shield a successful and rewarding experience.