5 tricks to get rid of nipple shields

5 tricks to get rid of nipple shields

When starting out with breastfeeding, mothers are often advised to use nipple shields. Maybe the baby does not seem to be able to latch on well, the mother is in pain, or someone simply considers that the mother’s nipple might “not be good enough” for breastfeeding.

There may come a time when you get tired of them and you wan’t to get rid of nipple shields, because they are not practical: you have to make sure they stay in place, you have to carry them with you all the time, and at night, they might get lost in bed, or fall on the floor and get dirty and so on.

Before trying to remove nipple shields, we have to understand if your baby really needs them and if at the time, they were recommended with good reason, if you have achieved thanks to them a better latch or could improve the baby’s milk transfer by using them. If your baby continues to show difficulties, maybe it’s not the right time to remove them, and you will have to wait.

Let’s take a look at some tricks on how to remove nipple shields:

1 – Spontaneous latch

If the nipple is flat, massage it slightly to stimulate it. When the breast is preparing to breastfeed or is sexually aroused, the tissue of the nipple and areola is erectile and tends to contract and elongate. This makes it much more inviting for babies and helps them to latch on better.

Another option is to leave the baby on top of the mother’s body, skin-to-skin, and let the little one find the breast on their own, this is called a spontaneous latch. Many babies, manage to do so without any help when they are not bothered or pressured to suckle. If the baby gets desperate and seems lost and waits a few seconds, help the little one by using the sandwich technique (we explain in the next section more about it), but if the baby doesn’t succeed, put the nipple shields on again without any delay.

2 – The “sandwich” sandwich hold

Hold your areola with your hand in a C-shape. When your baby opens their mouth, try to get them to latch on this way. When they feel more of the breast in their mouth, it is usually easier for them to create the necessary vacuum and suckle. Again, if the baby gets desperate, put the nipple shields back on to breastfeed and keep trying another time.

3 – The “swap” trick

Start the feed as usual with the nipple shield, and when the baby is suckling eagerly, take the nipple shield away and try again to get your baby to latch onto your breast without a nipple shield. Usually, the baby sucks a few times, and then lets go annoyed. It’s important to put the nipple shield back on if your baby gets very upset and then try the same method again another time, especially when they are relaxed or half asleep.

4 – Stimulate the suction reflex

Before starting a feed and when the baby begins to show hunger signs, insert your little finger in the baby’s mouth (always clean and with a well-trimmed fingernail), use your fingertip to find the sucking stimulation point on the palate (between the hard and soft palate) and massage lightly on that point while the baby sucks. When the baby sucks vigorously, put them to your breast immediately. Often, they will latch on and suckle without any further difficulties. Again, if they get angry or desperate, put the nipple shield back on as soon as possible and let them breastfeed.

5 – Not doing anything

The last option is to wait and don’t do anything. Most babies “wean” off nipple shields on their own between two and a half and four months of age. Although it may seem impossible at first, the day will come, when they reject them and don’t want to have anything to do with them. And then they will breastfeed directly from the nipple without any more problems.

What NOT to do

On the other hand, there are two things that we don’t recommend at all when trying to removing nipple shields and we think it’s important to talk about them here and explain the reasons why they are not suitable.

Never cut the tip off a nipple shield, as this can cause injuries inside a baby’s mouth. When nipple shields are cut, and even if the edges are laminated with a nail file, they are still very sharp and can cause small injuries to babies’ mouth.

It’s also not recommended to cut off the wings of nipple shields as it does not seem to be very successful in encouraging babies to stop using them, and it makes it very difficult to put them onto the breast as they will keep falling off.

And we never, never ever recommend leaving a baby without feeding: “just don’t put them on anymore and you’ll see when she’s hungry she will nurse”. It’s never a good idea to try to win with a baby by letting them go hungry. The baby learned to feed with those nipple shields and no matter how much we think we are helping, this option is never ok.

You can find more information on nipple shields in this article.

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