Nipple shield: Dangerous to baby?

I have used a nipple shield to get my son to nurse after receiving lots of help from the hospital staff, health department to get my son to nurse properly. We have had him weighed every week and he has not gained an ounce in his three weeks of life. The health department loaned me the Nuture III to try and pump milk. It took me one half hour to get 1.5 ounces. Can you help me?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

If your baby has been nursing, using a nipple shield since birth, and has not gained any weight in three weeks, it is extremely important that he be immediately evaluated by his Health Care Provider. Three weeks is generally considered to be too long for a baby to go without any weight gain. Most babies are back to birth weight by their two week checkup, gaining an average of four to eight ounces a week until three to four months of age. If your baby has still not gained any weight, he needs to be supplemented. When a baby is not properly nourished it is impossible for him to feed well.

Nipple shields have their place in helping breastfeeding moms, but they must always be used with caution, and in situations where both mom and baby will be closely monitored. Babies have become extremely dehydrated from their use, and may experience slow weight gain or failure to thrive. Nipple shields can decrease the stimulation to your nipple and areola, which will interfere with proper hormone release, and can dramatically decrease a mother's milk supply. While supplementing your baby, keep a good eye on his output. Normally a baby of this age wets six to eight diapers and has at least two to three bowel movements each day. It is also important that he have regular weight checks (two times a week, while working to wean him from the nipple shield to your bare breast.)

Once you do get your baby to your breast, and nursing well, you should see your milk supply begin to increase. In the meantime, expressing your milk with the Nurture III pump when your baby has had an incomplete feed, in between feeds, or following a feed, will help to preserve your milk supply. Be sure to offer your expressed milk to your baby. Best wishes!

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