Does A Nipple Shield Help With Inverted Nipples? Lactation Consultants Weigh In

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As amazing as breastfeeding is, sometimes it doesn't go exactly how you may have planned it. If you are breastfeeding and have inverted nipples, you may find yourself being introduced to new strategies. Many women are told to use nipple shields, but does a nipple shield help with inverted nipples? Romper asked the experts.

Dr. Lindsay Greenfield, Nurse Practitioner and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), tells Romper that she has a love-hate relationship with nipple shields. "Although they are an excellent tool to help the breastfeeding relationship along, they are not a permanent solution," Greenfield says. She explains that babies who can't latch without a shield, even in the presence of an inverted nipple, should get an oral evaluation to see if they have an oral tie, and it should be done by a trained professional — one who has experience with treatment and rehabilitation of children with oral ties.

"A nipple shield is like a Band-Aid, and in some cases, it can cause more issues than it helps," says IBCLC Leah Segura. She tells Romper that hospitals often hand out nipple shields when a baby is struggling to latch, or a mother is having pain, but nurses may not have the time and education to provide support, like appropriate sizing and proper usage. Segura says that enlisting the expertise of a lactation consultant could help identify the underlying issues and evaluate whether or not a nipple shield would be beneficial.

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The truth is, your nipples may not even be an issue. IBCLC Tera Hamann explains that, surprisingly, very few people actually have flat or inverted nipples, and that to earn this diagnosis, their nipples must be flat or inverted after stimulation, like a baby latching or a pump.

She also tells Romper that while nipple shields can benefit some moms, they can also decrease nipple stimulation and milk transfer. "If a mama feels like she needs a shield, she should also be pumping to protect her supply, watching wet and dirty diapers closely, monitoring weight gain, and seeking out help from an IBCLC," Hamann adds.

It is important to have your nipples, and your baby, evaluated by experienced professionals that can give you the correct diagnosis so that you can use the appropriate tools necessary. If you are using a nipple shield, try to keep an eye on your supply and make sure baby is getting enough milk. Talking to a lactation consultant about any breastfeeding concerns is always a great idea, because they can give you the proper support and answers you need to make your breastfeeding journey as easy as it can be.