Ever heard of a nipple shield? This is a silicone patch with the shape of a nipple. You put this piece over the nipple and areola and it looks a bit like a hat. It is a (temporary) accessory for breastfeeding which can help your child drink better from your breast.
Different types of nipple caps
There are nipple caps with different sizes. The size can vary per brand from small to large. There are also nipple caps of different materials available. The most commonly used nipple caps are made of silicone. Do not use latex tips, because latex can cause an allergic reaction in you or your child. It is also better not to use rubber. Most nipple caps have a recess on the side so that your baby can smell and touch you during feeding.
When do you use a nipple shield?
There may be several reasons to use a nipple shield. It is best to use the hat in consultation with your lactation consultant, so that you will not use it incorrectly.
Reasons can be if you:
- premature child has trouble drinking at the breast
- child does not have sufficient suction power
- have flat or withdrawn nipples
- wants to make the transition from bottle to breast easier
- suffer from nipple gaps
Disadvantages of a nipple shield
There are certainly not only advantages to the use of a nipple shield. The use is not without risk, especially if you do not do it well. For example, air can get between the hat and the skin, so your baby has more trouble drinking. As a result, your milk production can decline and because of this your child will get more air, he may suffer more from colic.
Risk of breast infection
If the hat is not properly positioned and your child can not properly drain your breast, milk may remain, which can block milk channels and increase the chances of breast infection. To prevent this, you can empty your chest completely empty once a day to make sure that they are empty.
When using nipple caps, you should pay more attention to good hygiene. The chance of infection and the chance of thrush is greater than without the use of the caps.
The use of nipple caps
Because there are so many risks associated with it, the use of a nipple hat is pretty much the last resort. In case of problems, consult your lactation consultant. Often there are more solutions that are less risky. Do not go experiment with a hat yourself if the breastfeeding is not fine.
How do you place it properly on the nipple?
1) Wet the edges of the nipple cap a little.
2) Support your chest with your one hand. Bend the edges of the hat forward with your other hand and place the hat on the nipple as precisely as possible.
3) Release the edges and gently press them against the areola.
4) Put your baby on now and make sure that he bites well and not only takes the nipple in his mouth, but the whole areola.
Where are they for sale?
Nipple caps are for sale at chemist, pharmacy and at baby shops. Teaspoons are also available online. They cost about 8 to 10 euros.