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Thread: Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

  1. #1
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    Default Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

    Just saw this on Dr Jack Newman's facebook post - thought I'd share it here:

    An article about nipple shields. Written by Anne Chevalier McKechnie and Anne Eglash, published in BREASTFEEDING MEDICINE Volume 5, Number 6, 2010. I will put the link into the first comment. Here's what they say:

    "Conclusions: The current literature does not support many of the current practices regarding NS use. The available evidence does not
    demonstrate that NSs are safe in the long term for milk supply, infant weight gain, or duration of breastfeeding. Rather than assuming that NSs are safe until proven otherwise,healthcare providers should consider NSs an unknown risk and limit their duration of use whenever possible, until further evidence demonstrates their long-term safety."


    It's interesting because they're so commonly offered, as if there's no risk, no harm, why not? sort of attitude. Thoughts?
    Mommy to our DD1 early bird (34 weeks, 2 days, 7lbs, 14oz)! Oct. 2nd, 2008 Emergency C-Section, Frank Breech, HEALTHY Girl!
    Weaned @ 17 months
    Our DD2 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 12oz) Aug. 10th, 2010 Our Successful VBAC, growing like a bad weed!
    Weaned @ 15 months
    Our DD3 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 6oz) Feb. 16th, 2012 Our 2nd VBAC and lightening speedy birth!

    Loving being a Mom of 3, 40 months apart!!
    and

  2. #2
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

    There is risk. I think most people know that. With DD I was given a NS and told I'd have to pump if I used it bc it's less stimulation. That skin to skin with baby's mouth really helps. I think they're a tool and sometimes help, sometimes hurt.

    ETA I love Dr Newman! I follow his FB page too.
    Last edited by @llli*krystine; November 12th, 2013 at 09:13 PM.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

    I skimmed the article and I am not sure I understand the conclusion. It seems to me the conclusion would be ‘we need more information.”

    I agree it is important to remember that nipple shields are not a benign intervention. Neither are pumps, formula supplements, block nursing, galactagogues and probably many other things that are routinely suggested to mothers with breastfeeding issues and many who do not even have breastfeeding issues. All interventions have some risk. But that does not mean these all are not sometimes helpful, even vital tools when used appropriately.

    Shields are discussed as potentially useful tools in both the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and the lactation text Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, both also published in 2010. The authors of both books looked at the same evidence the authors of this study did, and drew a different conclusion about nipple shield use. Certainly there is anecdotal evidence of instances where a baby cannot latch and nurse (or nurse effectively) without a shield and can latch and nurse with one. imo, in such circumstance’s the benefit of baby nursing at the breast is worth the risk. When shields are offered to mothers by IBCLC's, they are (or certainly should) be offered as a last resort and a temporary measure, mothers should be taught how and why to use them, including sizing and how to put them on. If milk transfer is in question at all, mom should be encouraged to pump as well as nurse in order to help maintain normal milk production, and to follow babies weight gain and output carefully. Also, and this is really vital, follow up care should be available. Nipple shields treat the symptom-baby cannot latch. They do not solve the underlying issue of whatever is preventing baby from latching.

    The primary problem with shields (imo) is that instead of being handled with caution, they are handed out by hospital staff who may not have the time or the training to actually help a mother figure out latch and who do not have the ability to follow up with the mother meaningfully, and they are available for any mother to pick up herself at Target or Babies R Us probably with little or no understanding of what they are for.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    Certainly there is anecdotal evidence of instances where a baby cannot latch and nurse (or nurse effectively) without a shield and can latch and nurse with one. imo, in such circumstance’s the benefit of baby nursing at the breast is worth the risk.
    Totally agree. I only wish someone had offered me one with my first child, I left the hospital after a 4 night stay from complications, nipples bleeding and pain shooting all the way up my neck when I nursed. I gave up completely within 2 weeks. No one ever mentioned a nipple shield, and I think it might have actually helped in a situation like that. However, at least three of my close friends were handed nipple shields on day 1 at the hospital with no stipulations or knowledge, and it definitely was detrimental in two of those cases. The third person actually used a nipple shield until her child was over a year old.
    and Mama to two little girls

  5. #5
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Nipple Shields, Are They Safe?

    I agree they're a tool and should be used when needed but not just doled out to everyone without education or need.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

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