Monday, May 19, 2014

Nipple Shield: Tips and Tricks!

I never knew that a little piece of silicon could rule my life for almost three months, but that's just what happened after my son was born.  Lucas was born with a bubble pallet, posterior tongue tie and a lip tie but was diagnosed a little later (you can find our story here and here) so I had a lot of pain in the beginning and didn't know why.

My lactation consultant decided that I would be a good candidate for a nipple and thus began my three month journey.

I still have our old nipple shields in a plastic bag in L's baby box.  They were a huge part of our lives for the first three months that I just can't bring myself to throw them away.

I hadn't even heard of a nipple shield prior to having my son but I soon learned that some people love them and others think they are horrible for nursing mothers.  The point of this post isn't really to go into that but rather share some important tips and tricks and things you should do if you are using one (under the supervision of an IBCLC if at all possible!).

First, make sure you have the right size nipple shield (yes, there are sizes).  This is where an IBCLC can be really helpful.

Second, if you're using the contact shield (it's got the little dip in it) that should be positioned where your babies nose will end up depending on they type of hold you plan on using.

Third, dunking it in water before putting it on will help it "stick" a little better.

Fourth, cleaning it is important - rinse it in hot water after every use and make sure you sterilize it at least every two days.  Because of this I found having two shields that I alternated between was a huge life saver!

Fifth, if your shield is filled with milk when you're finished feeding that's a good thing.  I doesn't mean your little one isn't eating enough, but rather a sign that you're using the shield correctly, your supply is good and your baby is eating well.

And finally, lets talk about supply.  This is where the controversy usually stems so what are some things you can do to help maintain your supply.  The Medela website (manufacturers of a nipple shield) suggest pumping after every feeding that you use a nipple shield.  Personally, and after talking to several LC's that I'm friends with, I think this is a bit of overkill.   It is important to make sure your breast if being fully drained, both for supply and to avoid clogged ducts and mastitis. 

This is not an exclusive list of things you should keep in mind when using a nipple shield.  And, as always, please remember this is not medical advice and you should always consult an IBCLC for questions in your specific situation.

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