Nipple shields: useful or useless

Time-frame: 60-90 minutes
CERP: yes

Nipple shields have been used for hundreds of years by mothers to capture leaking milk or manage sore nipples. More recently they have been used as a tool to achieve latch and milk transfer in infants having difficulty with these tasks. Controversy surrounds the use of this tool as there are both pros and cons regarding their use and desired and undesired outcomes. The newborn mouth is a sensitive area with specialized cells tasked with oral tactile recognition. Nipple shields can provide a platform for easier latch and milk transfer in situations of low oral vacuum, upper airway alterations, oral anomalies, and a host of other conditions. However, a rigid nipple shield has the potential to be recognized as a decoy or substitute for the soft pliable breast, can mask the olfactory orientation to the breast, and can act as a super stimulus during a critical period of time when breast recognition is taking place. This presentation will explore the concepts of imprinting, super stimulus, critical periods of time, the development of a conscious mouth image, alterations of the suck central pattern generator, as well as the small amount of research on the use of nipple shields and their effect on breastfeeding.



Marsha Walker RN, IBCLC


Phone number: 781-893-3553
Email: Marshalact@aol.com

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