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I brought these Medela nipple shields with my second baby after a week of painful breastfeeding. If I'd known how good they were I would have breastfed my first child for much longer instead of giving up from pain.
The shields come In different sizes to suit and also come with a case which makes them easy to take anywhere.
Medela nipple shields work by being placed onto the nipple just before you start nursing, the baby can latch on and the silicon protects your nipple from getting cracked and sore. The silicon is thin so the baby can still smell the mother and milk. They are then removed and sterilised after use. These are especially good if you already have sore nipples, as I did, as it works as a barrier allowing you to carry on successfully nursing.
I found that sometimes the shield fell off or moved out of place, but most of the time they were excellent.
Baby was fine with the shields, I was worried that the plastic feel would stop him feeding, but it didn't affect nursing one bit, it just meant I was able to carry on feeding and I still am today, he's 12months now!
Nipple shields are one of those products in life that you never really hear of till you need them and then there can become a mind field of choice. My first introduction to them was over 4 years ago when my first son was born. He was born 2 weeks late and developed infected jaundice so ended up in SCBU. I was determined to breast feed him and these nipple shield made it possible and for that alone I would recommend them. Now I have another 3 month old son they have proved handy again.
What are they
These nipple shields from Medela come in packs of two with their own little carry case which is very convenient for carrying them around. The carry case is newer feature that wasn't around four years ago and it has been nice to see that the company has listened to feedback and included them as part of the sets now, as this makes them very convenient for carrying in your baby change bag. The case is very ease to click open and closed with one hand I find which is essential I think for those baby juggling moments most mothers need.
The shields themselves are made from ultra-thin, soft silicone which is odourless and tasteless for your baby. Unlike a lot of nipple shields on the market there is a contoured cut away top section which means that your baby can still smell your body and it helps with the bonding process due to this.
They come in various sizes and you do need to get the right size I found as the wrong one can actually make sore nipples worse in my experience. I found using a medium ore initially while the right size for my sons mouth actually only enclosed part of my nipple which then made the soreness worse. Moving up to the large size within a week soon rectified this and my son at under 3 weeks managed the large size even better than he did the medium and had no problems feeding using the large surface area. The way to check the size you need is to measure the diameter of the nipple base after breastfeeding when the nipple is warm and moist and hence the size it will be when baby is feeding. I personally found the large suited us both best but it does come in three sizes small = 16mm, medium = 20mm, large = 24mm
Why use them and In use
I have to first say that health professionals say that nipple shields should really only be used if you are having problems as they can cause a reduction in your milk supply and can lead to your baby not recognising the shape of your nipple and other similar nipple confusion issues. However I used these exclusively with my first son all through our breastfeeding journey and we never had any problems with supply or him gaining weight and he was feed till he was over a year old.
Nipple Shields are really an amazing solution to sore, cracked, flat or inverted nipples. I also found that because my son had a poor sucking reflex due to his health issues that the larger area of the nipple shield enabled him to latch on better and manage to feed properly. Even as he got older he was unable to manage without a nipple shield and he had seemed to become accustomed to the large surface area teat style area better. As I have a fast let down the shield quickly filled with milk which then encouraged him to suckle and get the milk supply going the circular shape of the shield below the nipple area seemed to mean the teat area could cope with the weight of the milk without falling off unlike the Advent brand I also tried which would fall off easily.
To use them firstly you should ensure that both your hands and nipple area are clean I personally always used a baby wipe to clean the area. You then take the shield and place it over the nipple area ensuring the tip of your nipple is nicely in the nipple section of the shield. I personally found it best to do this quickly whilst my skin was still slightly damp as it seems to help the shield stay in place better, as if the skin was too dry then it wouldn't stick on as well which means the nipple shields move and you then are unlatching your baby as the poor latch can cause pain even with a nipple shield. The other problem I found was that if it wasn't adhered properly it can lead to more air getting in and causing wind problems. You then latch your baby on in the same way that you would for any normal breastfeed ensuring the tip of the nipple shield is to the back and top of their mouth. I always seemed to use the old mantra of nose to nipple as doing it and certainly as my first son got more used to breastfeeding he would know what he was doing and latch on correctly.
During a feed the difference between wearing a nipple shield and not is slight as this brand are so thin with the compared with the other brand I tried Advent which I found to be a bit thicker and harder to remain fixed on my nipples. Wearing the shields I found gave good relief from the comfort of sore nipples that I had developed with my first son and within a week they were healed so in theory we didn't need them but both of us preferred the shields so we stuck with them. This also allowed me to not develop any sore nipples through the whole teething process when he would occasionally bite me and the shields did serve to protect my sensitive skin.
With my second son I have used them only on a couple of occasions as he has no problems with his rooting and sucking reflexes and is more than able to latch on. However they have provided very helpful in the early days when I was engorged as the shape of the nipple shield allowed him to latch on whilst my nipple was very flat due to the pressure of milk in my breast and for this reason again I would recommend having a pair of these shields from breastfeeding emergencies.
Cleaning the shield is very simple with a good wash under the tap but you do then need to sterilise them daily. The hospital had recommend I use Milton tablets to sterilise the shields and this worked well. However the chemicals in the sterilising solution would over a period of about 6 weeks discolour the shields and I found this made it awkward to check the position of the nipple in the shield so I would then move on to another pair. Equally by this time the shield were starting to be a bit worn so I would say this is the maximum life span they have for regular use. This time round I have used the microwave sterilising bags and found this is preferable to chemical sterilisation as no discoloration happens.
The only disadvantage I have found with using these shields is that it is harder to do a discreet breastfeed as you are fiddling about with the nipple shield checking they are on correctly and giving your breast a quick wipe. However this is true for all brands of nipple shield not just this one.
Overall and recommendation
I would definitely recommend these nipple shields to breast feeding mums who have either problems with latching the baby or who have sore nipples as they can help with both. They are great to help with sore and cracked nipples and at times when you are engorged. They are easy to clean and the storage case is handy to keep them in and for transit. If used constantly they have a life span of around 6-8 weeks, which I think it great value as they enable you to continue with breastfeeding. Whilst they are really only supposed to be used for short periods I did find them comfortable to use all the time with my first son and their thin design and cut away section meant I didn't have any problems with milk supply or the bonding process however do proceed with advice from your breastfeeding support group about this as everyone is different and did this with support of my health visitor and midwife. They are on sale in Boots Mothercare and other baby shops for around £6 for a pair.
i would never have managed to breastfeed my son were it not for these!! I struggled like mad in hospital in the days after he was born, to get him to latch on..48 hours later, at home and still struggling and by now, i was sore and bleeding and on the verge of giving up.
In trotted my mother with nipple shields. I was sceptical at first. It's difficult to see how two little circles of thin silicone material can help. But to be honest when you have never had a baby before, the thought of breastfeeding, yet alone with some strange object over your nipples seems ridiculous! But god, they were fab. And i don't just mean any nipple shields. I mean these ones.
what are they?
You get 2 silicone shields in a yellow plastic carry case. Each shield consists of a teat which your nipple goes into.(abit like the end of a baby's bottle) Once on, the gentle suction created around the teat when the baby sucks, draws out your nipple - advantage being that baby has something to hang on to and can therefore feed, your sore skin has some relief from the protective shield and can thus recover and using these a few times really does help to draw the nipple out for when you decide not to use them anymore - which is especially great if you have inverted nipples or nipples that just aren't erect all the time.
The end of the teat has 4 very tiny holes for the milk to come out of. (which mimics our breasts - as, shockingly i discovered, milk does not just come out of one hole in your nipple but a number of them!!)The rest of the shield is configured in a semi circle so that you can position it so that baby's nose is not against the shield but your skin instead. The material is very flexible,soft and transparent. The shields should be washed after each use and placed in the sterilizer, as you would any bottles or dummies. I paid £5.99 for these in mothercare and did not need to replace them during the 6 weeks i used them to get feeding established.
Why is this nipple shield the best??
1. Because unlike the others, it has a fab carry case which means you can sterilize your shields and the case and then pop them in your changing bag and go out and about and breastfeed away from home, safe in the knowledge that your shields are being stored hygenically until use. All the other shields i tried did not have this case which proved a nightmare as to how to carry them about..thoughts of how i would carry my 5l sterilizing tub around with me caused me some mild panic!
2. The material around the nipple part of the shield is in a semi circle. Some shields are in a full circle. The disadvantage of this is that your baby's nose is against synthetic material instead of your skin whilst feeding. The Avent shields have two strips that fan down off the 'teat' but i found that as there was not enough material surrounding the teat, these slipped easily during feeding and constantly needed readjusting. These Medela teats however, were perfectly shaped. They had enough skin contact to stay put but the shield had a semi circle shape so you could position your baby so that he/she was latched on with their nose against your skin. The final huge bonus of positioning the Medela shield like this being that no one need know you are using shields when the baby's nose is on the side without the material - making these shields really discreet to use.
3. Finally, Medela is a well known, trusted brand and we all know that when you are a new mum, all you want to hear is that the product is safe, it is make from good quality material, it won't fall apart and it doesnt contain any harmful chemicals that could intefere with your newborn and Medula ticks all these boxes! (and ive been so passionate about it here as i really would not have breastfed to 7 months without this product. Breast is not always best but when you really want to give it a go, but you are in a fair bit of pain or don't have porn star nipples(!), these will be your saving grace. Have them in your hospital bag, just incase!!)
Before I had Baby Frank, I'd never heard of nipple shields, and why would I? Unless your friends are really mean, those who've had children are unlikely to terrify a pregnant friend by telling her of the perils of breastfeeding in much detail. These soft silicone shields are often worn by nursing mothers over sore or cracked nipples so they can carry on breastfeeding less painfully.
Baby Frank and I took five days (and it felt like five weeks) to get breastfeeding up and running while I was in hospital, and I give all the credit of finally getting it to these Medela nipple shields. The midwives had tried everything to encourage/ force Baby Frank to latch on but to no avail. I had been manhandled in every conceivable way and the staff were running out of ideas (as one of them told me one night at around 3am) to help Baby Frank feed. Nightmare.
The hospital I was in was very pro-breastfeeding as I think many are and discourage the use of nipple shields to help establish feeding. However, one wonderful renegade midwife snuck me a nipple shield from a stash in her car to help Baby Frank latch on. Lo and behold, she latched on straight away. I immediately sent out Mr Frank to buy me some so I could continue breastfeeding at home.
Mr Frank found these Medela nipple shields in Boots for £5.99. There were two in the pack and they came with a handy plastic carry case. The shields themselves are made from silicone and are a circle shape with a dent in one side so the baby's nose can be against the mother's skin. In the middle of the shield is the 'nipple' part which is made of a harder silicone. In the top it has four holes through which the baby gets the milk. They attach easily to the mother's skin by dampening the underneath of the shield.
Once I had these in my bag I knew I would be able to feed Baby Frank at home. I was suddenly confident in my abilities and decided to be discharged from hospital. I found that I did not need to use these for more than a couple of days as Baby Frank had got the idea, but carrying one around in the changing bag gave me the confidence to go out and show off my baby to the world.