Many new parents worry that their nipples are not adequate for nursing their new babies. While breastfeeding/chestfeeding with flat and inverted nipples can be more difficult, especially if your baby also has challenges achieving a deep latch, nipple size and shape may be less of a concern than a parent may have anticipated. With ideal latch and positioning support, many people can nurse their babies just fine, despite non-protruding nipples. It might be reassuring to remember that babies latch onto the areola, not just the nipple and that they can even “pull” an inverted nipple out with good sucking.
A nipple shield is a flexible silicone nipple that is worn over the mom’s nipple while she nurses. When should a nipple shield be used?
– Nursing with inverted or flat nipples:
Nipple shields are helpful for people with shorter, flatter, or inverted nipples, making the latch difficult for the baby. Feeding through the shield helps draw the nipple out, to make it easier for your baby to latch onto the breast.
– Breastfeeding a premature baby:
Nipple shields are also useful for some smaller or premature babies who haven’t fully developed their ability to suck and have difficulty latching on to the breast. A nipple shield can help a preemie create suction and position the nipple in a way they may not yet be strong enough to do themselves.