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Learning How to Breastfeed

SILKHow to use a nipple shield

  • A nipple shield is a thin plastic nipple that is placed on your breast to help your baby learn to breastfeed.
  • Preterm babies often have a weak or immature suck when they are learning to breastfeed.
  • The nipple shield will help your baby attach and stay on your breast.
  • The baby can make more suction with the shield, so they get more milk.
  • Your nurse, occupational therapist or lactation nurse will help to fit you and your baby with the right size shield.
  • To put the shield on: Flip the outer part inside out, center the shield over your nipple and flip the outer part snugly onto your breast.
  • Some mothers like to use a small amount of your milk or lanolin under the outer part of the shield to help it stick (not on the nipple part!)
  • Latch your baby on by stroking his lips with the shield tip.
  • When the baby opens wide, gently guide him onto the breast.
  • The tip of the shield needs to be in the back of your baby's mouth, it should not slide in and out while baby is sucking.
  • You should feel the baby's suck with the shield on, and hear swallows.
  • Shields should be washed with warm soapy water after each use, dried and put into a clean container.
  • Most preemies use a nipple shield to breastfeed until a few weeks after their due date, when their suck is stronger.

What is a Test Weight?

  • When a baby is learning to breastfeed, it is hard to know how much milk they drink.
  • We will show you how to weigh the baby before and after feeding.
  • The amount of weight the baby gains is the amount of milk that was taken from your breast (1 gram = 1 ml of milk).
  • It is important to not change clothes or diapers (between the weights) so that the numbers are accurate.
  • Any wires or tubes should be weighed the same way before and after feeding.
  • Write the "before" weight down on paper so that you remember.
  • The baby's nurse can help you learn to use the scale and calculate the weight gain.
  • Thanks Mom for doing such a great job helping me learn how to breastfeed and pumping milk for me!

The Chester County Hospital Lactaction Consultants: 610.738.2582

Last Updated: 6/23/2011