Weaning from a Nipple Shield


Nipple shields are a commonly used tool in the lactation world. They may help a premature baby latch to give the baby time to mature and learn how to suck, prevent nipple damage from a tied baby, or be used when a nipple is flat/inverted (either from normal anatomical variations or because the breast is fluid overloaded from interventions during birth).  While there are many benefits to using a shield, are also risks, like the potential for decreased milk supply. Hopefully if you were given a shield, you were also given an exit strategy for weaning off of it. With any tool, make sure the reason you were given one has been addressed (giving a premature baby time to grow, doing oral motor exercises and a tie release, education that fluids during labor and delivery can temporarily make breast tissue swell and make nipples look shorter or flatter than they naturally are, etc). When you are ready to wean from one there are multiple strategies to help:

  • 💡Start with the shield on and take it off after the first let down once baby is not as hungry/use it on the first side and not on the second side
  • 💡Try without the shield once a day during daylight hours when baby is happy and not too hungry. Catching early hunger cues is imperative. If they’re crying, try a different time 
  • 💡Start in skin to skin. Taking a bath together can help. Try to be as relaxed as possible
  • 💡Try to erect and evert your nipple. Use reverse pressure softening (RPS, see highlight reel), a pump or stimulate your nipples with your hands before attempting to latch
  • 💡Help baby latch with laid back nursing, supporting the breast in a “C” or sandwich hold, or the flipple. Make sure baby’s chin and cheeks are physically touching the breast as much as possible
  • 💡Hand express to get milk flowing to keep baby interested 
  • 💡Relax and be patient. Babies can feel your energy. The more you can see it as fun practice, the less pressure you’ll put on yourself and your baby
  • 💡Try a different shield like the Lovi or Dr Brown’s which are thinner and give you more stimulation 

How to properly place a nipple shield: CLICK HERE