If you are using a nipple shield, you may have felt the frustration of making sure it sticks. It can be tough to concentrate on proper breastfeeding positions while you are fumbling with a nipple shield. Breastfeeding is hard enough without making sure the nipple shield does not fall off.
While my daughter was in the NICU, we worked with a Lactation Consultant and an Occupational Therapist that specialized in Breastfeeding and Infant Feeding.
The Lactation Consultant and Occupational Therapist had a lot of great tips on how to make sure the nipple shield stays attached, and I wanted to share with you what I learned.
So, what do you do if a nipple shield doesn’t stick?
- Warm the nipple shield in warm water before applying.
- Flip it inside out, so the flat part is rolled slightly over the “hat” part. Then, apply it by rolling it back over your nipple.
- Use lanolin.
- Use medical tape.
- Hold it in place.
- Try a larger or smaller size shield.
There are a few nuances to these tips, which I will go into as I discuss each tip in-depth. If you are still struggling with your nipple shield detaching after trying these six tips, be sure to read all the way to the end. I have a few bonus tips for you to try out and see if they work for you.
Warm The Nipple Shield In Warm Water
If your nipple shield constantly falls off, then try warming up the nipple shield. Start by using a bowl of warm water. Place the nipple shield in the bowl of water until the shield is warm. The warmth of the water will help make the shield more pliable, so it sticks and stays in place.
Be careful to not use water that is boiling or too hot. You may burn yourself if the water is too hot and then you try to apply the nipple shield. You also do not want to burn your baby’s mouth if the nipple shield is too warm.
Also, if the water is too hot, then it may warp the nipple shield. If the shield is warped, it may not stick properly and you may need to replace it.
Flip The Nipple Shield Inside Out And Then Roll The Shield On To Apply It
Help the nipple shield stay fastened by using this process. Follow these steps so it will adhere better.
- Start by flipping the flat part of the nipple shield over the “hat” part of the nipple shield.
- You will roll it back so more of the “hat” part is exposed.
- Then, apply the “hat” part over your nipple.
- Roll the flat portion of the nipple shield back onto your breast.
This will allow a tighter fit for the shield. It will also create a little bit of suction, so your nipple is pulled further into the shield.
This was the method that worked the best when I used a nipple shield in the NICU. If it is not working for you, then you may need to try using a different size nipple shield. When you are using the correct size, the diameter of the opening of the shield should fit snugly over your nipple.
Try Lanolin On The Shield
The next tip is to try applying a small amount of lanolin on the flat part of the nipple shield. Lanolin provides some friction and it is sticky.
The stickiness from the lanolin can help the nipple shield adhere to your skin. Lanolin will act almost like a temporary glue to keep the nipple shield attached to your skin.
One reason some moms use lanolin is that it is considered is safe for babies. Lanolin does not need to be wiped off before breastfeeding. If some of the lanolin transfers off your breast and into your baby’s mouth, it is not a problem.
My favorite brand of lanolin helped a lot with sore nipples. The best part was that the tube lasted a very long time because you only need a tiny amount with each application. Here is a link to my favorite brand of lanolin.
Use Medical Tape So The Nipple Shield Sticks
Another tip to get the nipple shield to stick is to use medical tape. After the shield is on, then apply medical tape to the shield, taping it onto your breast.
Use the tape on the far edges of the nipple shield, away from where your baby will latch on. It is best to use two or three pieces of tape on each side of the shield. One piece of tape will most likely not be sufficient to keep the nipple shield in place while you are feeding.
Be sure to keep the tape away from where your baby will take the shield into his or her mouth. This will help to make sure that your baby does not have trouble breastfeeding due to the medical tape.
This tip will work best if you are not simultaneously trying to wean off the nipple shield. You probably do not want to try to remove the shield and the tape in the middle of a feeding.
You can also use this tip in conjunction with some of the other tips. For example, try using a small amount of lanolin and flipping the shield onto your nipple (tips 2 and 3). Then, If you are still having trouble with the shield staying on your breast, apply a couple of pieces of medical tape to make sure it stays put.
Hold The Nipple Shield In Place
The next tip is to hold the nipple shield in place with your hands. This technique may work well if you only need the nipple shield for a few minutes while your baby is initially latching on.
One benefit is that this is a more temporary solution than the other tips. If you begin feeding with the nipple shield and then want to remove it to breastfeed without the shield, you can do that easily.
Try A Larger Or Smaller Size Shield
Using the correct size shield is probably the most important tip in this list. If a lactation consultant initially fitted you with a nipple shield, that it may no longer be the correct size. Your nipples may have changed size or shape after your initial visit with the lactation consultant.
A follow-up visit with the lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group is a good idea. They will help to make sure you are still correctly fitted with the nipple shield. This is because your nipples can change shape during the weeks and months after you start breastfeeding.
You may also find that another size of nipple shield may fit you better at different times of day depending on your level of engorgement. You may also need a different size of nipple shield when your supply regulates after about 12 weeks postpartum.
If a nipple shield is too large, there will not be enough area for the shield to grip when it is applied. It may then easily slip or fall off while your baby is trying to latch.
If the nipple shield is too small, then it may constrict your milk ducts and not allow them to fully empty while breastfeeding. This could lead to weight gain problems in your baby, and clogged ducts or a reduction in milk supply over time.
If you need a different size, I looked around at a few different stores and found the best prices on nipple shields here (link to Amazon).
If you are experiencing clogged ducts, you may find some helpful tips in this article I wrote on 25 tips to prevent and treat clogged milk ducts.
Bonus Tip: Use A Latch Assist Device Or A Manual Hand Pump
A latch assist device and a manual hand pump will both help “pop” your nipples out so your baby can have an easier time latching without the nipple shield.
If you are still having trouble fumbling with a nipple shield, it may be time to try a few other techniques to help your baby to latch.
One item that can help is a latch assist device. This device works almost like a suction cup. It will pop your nipples out, which makes it easier for your baby to latch on. It can also be helpful to use one of these latch assist devices when you are trying to wean off the nipple shield.
When choosing one of these devices, be sure that you pick one that comes from a reputable manufacturer and that does not contain BPA. This kit contains a latch assist device as well as my favorite brand of lanolin.
Another option is to use a manual hand pump. This will help to prime your nipples so your baby can latch on more easily. I researched a few different manual pumps and found that this pump was the most comfortable. You can check out my favorite manual pump here (link to Amazon).
I hope that these tips helped to alleviate some of your frustrations with using a nipple shield!
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