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Ins and Outs of Nipple Shields

When used correctly, nipple shields can be quite helpful for women who are having nursing difficulties. They are also used in several other situations, such as for premature infants who are physically not able to nurse. Mastering the use of a nipple shield is definitely a trial-and-error process. Keep at it, and be sure to seek help if you encounter any problems.

Nipple Shields: A Love-Hate Relationship?

If you are looking up information on nipple shields, you may find yourself facing a vast array of conflicting data. Some people hate them; some people say they are a lifesaver. There's research saying that they prevent babies from getting the milk they need; other research says they provide more than enough.
And then more questions pop up: When should I use nipple shields? Do I have to express milk after using one? When do I stop using them? After countless hours of research, it's enough to make any sane person give up out of sheer confusion.
So let's break it down, little by little and bit by bit. By looking at some basic information, this article will help you to understand when it's a good time to use them and when it's not. The most basic rule of thumb to remember is that nipple shields should be used wisely.

What Exactly Are They?

Nipple shields have been around for a long, long time -- since the 1500s at least. Back in those days, they were made of lead, silver, wood, wax, pewter, bone, and even glass! An elastic or rubber teat was then applied to the shield for the baby to suck on. These artificial nipples were worn over the mother's nipple while she was breastfeeding her child.
Back in the day, they were used to assist infants who needed help breastfeeding or to protect a mother's sore or damaged nipple. Although these may seem extremely outdated, there are still areas in the world today where you might find some of these antiquated devices.
However, modern-day nipple shields are typically made of latex, rubber, or silicone. When the baby nurses with a nipple shield in place, the milk flows through the holes in the tip of the shield.
Most research has shown that the rubber and latex designs have reduced milk transfers of 58 percent and 22 percent, respectively. These types of shields tend to be thick, which makes it difficult for the baby's sucking action to properly compress the milk from the breasts. Not only can this prevent the baby from getting enough milk, it can also decrease your milk supply. This is not as big of a problem with silicone nipple shields, when used correctly.
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