The history of using nipple shields goes back in modern history for quite a long time. The debate about if they should be used, how they should be used, and why they should be used has caused many disagreements in our field.
The research on nipple shields is limited. The purpose of these surveys is to get a sense of how and why nipple shields are actually be used by families and how lactation professionals play into this data.
Please share these where ever you can so we can get a large number of responses. This information will be used to help inform us as to the current state or nipple shield use. The data will be used for future conference presentations, hopefully will be published in a journal, a podcasts, and for training of lactation professionals.
Our survey has now closed! Stay tuned for the results! We had over 5000 responses! Thank you all!
History of Nipple Shields
What is this history? According to Science Museum, Brought to Life, “Nipple shields of the Victorian period were never popular with mothers. They were often made of seemingly inappropriate materials such as lead and glass. Nipple shields protect nipples from teething babies. They also soothe sore nipples of breastfeeding mothers. They prevent nipples from flattening, contain leaking milk and help women who had trouble breastfeeding…It probably prevented the nipple flattening, for example under clothes, rather than being for feeding. There are no holes through which milk could pass. Lead is also dangerous and over-exposure can cause nerve and brain damage.”
For some examples of these go here, here, and here. Below is an example of some other older ones from Wikipedia.
These are clearly made from hard materials that would not allow for good breastmilk transfer. Many of these don’t even have holes for the milk to come out!
Modern nipple shields are quite different, made of thin silicon, which can allow for breastmilk transfer. I personally find they are great sometimes and not some other times. I think of them like training wheels for a bicycle. The training wheels keep you from falling over so you can learn to steer, stop, and start. A nipple shield can provide a bit of structure to make it a bit easier for the baby to focus on suck, swallow, and breathe.
Please let us know what you think by participating in our survey!
Also, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, getting professional help is always best. Consider contacting us for a private breastfeeding consultation. You don’t have to do it alone!