Updated on November 4, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Congratulations! You’ve just had your baby and decided to try breastfeeding! A few days in, you realize that there are variables of breastfeeding and pumping that aren’t ideal (failure to latch, cracked or bloody nipples, mastitis, etc). Suddenly, the vision of a perfectly quiet session of bonding with your baby turns into a mess of stress and chaos. You second guess nursing altogether, but before you throw in the towel, check out our list of shields, balms, and flanges that will make the nursing and pumping process much easier.
The Best Nipple Shields and Balm
Why it’s great: Lansinoh nipple shields are made of ultra-thin, soft, and flexible silicone for maximum comfort. The special cut-out design maximizes skin-to-skin contact. This shield is BPA and BPS free. There are two sizes (20 and 24mm) offering comfort for an array of women. Included is a protective case for hygienic and convenient storage. The case also makes it easier to find the shield!
Keep in mind: The shape on this shield is for pointier nipples.
Why it’s great: The Medela nipple shield is uniquely shaped with a cutout at the top which encourages skin-to-skin contact. Each order contains one 20mm nipple shield but you can also find shields in 16mm and 24mm sizes. With Medela, you can easily find the most comfortable nipple shields for you and your baby.
Keep in mind: The nipple piece is larger so be sure it measures well with your nipple to avoid frustration from your little one.
Why it’s great: The shield’s textured surface is gentle on baby’s skin and allows air to flow between baby and shield. Each MAM nipple shield is made with SkinSoft silicone that feels natural and is extra thin so your baby can get as close to your skin as possible. MAM’s shields include sizes 17mm and 23 mm, and numbered stages (1-3) to support a slower or faster milk flow. Another perk is that this shield comes with a sterile and convenient case.
Keep in mind: This shield has a flatter nipple
Why it’s great: Breast pump flanges are useful when pumping and expressing milk. With 5 size options, you can quickly find the most comfortably fitted breast shield. Benefits of a properly fitted flange include maximized milk expression while helping to avoid nipple trauma or irritation. Sizes available are 21mm, 24mm, 27mm, 30mm, and 36mm. These shield flanges are engineered, tested, and approved to work specifically with your Medela breast pump to complement your pumping experience, but will also work with other pumps.
Keep in mind: This type of shield is only for pumping or expressing milk.
Why it’s great: With a curved bowtie shape, this shield allows for the baby’s nose and chin to touch for maximum skin contact. The shape and texture encourage an easy latch to optimize milk expression. This shield is made of ultra-fine silicone which imitates your skin. It comes in two sizes, 15mm and 21mm. Each package includes two shields and a closed case.
Keep in mind: The plastic is a bit thicker which provides more nipple protection but less latching
Why it’s great: Consider all the hours you spend breastfeeding or pumping. It’s a strong bet that you’ll find yourself with cracked nipples and other discomforts. This nipple cream is soothing, organic, non-sticky, toxin-free, and made from calendula, a plant that has soothing and healing properties. This cream was formulated by a nurse and herbalist. It’s lanolin-free. Apply cream worry-free knowing that it’s safe for mama and baby, so there’s no need to wash it off before nursing.
Keep in mind: It comes in a small container and a little bit goes a long way! Start with a pea-sized dab and apply more if needed.
Why it’s great: These gel pads offer a soothing solution for nursing moms experiencing cracked, painful, or sore nipples during the early days of breastfeeding. These pads are safe, absorbent, and can be reused for up to 72 hours. These pads provide leak protection to avoid visible lactation. The cotton fabric backing helps protect sensitive nipples from rubbing against clothing. Included is a tray to ensure sanitation and help you keep track of the pads between each wear.
Keep in mind: These pads are meant to be used alone and not with lanolin, nipple creams, or other remedies.
FAQs about nipple shields and balm
1. What shape should I look for when searching for a nipple shield?
It’s important to consider the shape of your nipples and buy a shield that most resembles them. That way, your baby will have an easier time latching.
2. What’s the material of nipple shields?
Most shields are made of soft silicone. This provides a thinner and softer shield, offering closer contact for your baby. Some are thicker than others which offers more protection for you but might be a bit difficult for your baby to extract milk.
3. Does the size of the shield matter?
Yes, the size of the shield corresponds with the size of your nipples and breasts. The larger the breasts, the larger the nipple shield should be.
4. Is Nipple cream or butter necessary?
Nipple balms and creams are quite necessary, especially in the early stages of breastfeeding and pumping. They prevent your nipples from getting cracked or even bloody and help withstand the strong suckle of your baby.
5. Does the flange size matter of shields for breast pumps?
Size does matter! Similar to a nursing nipple shield, the flanges need to correspond to your nipple and breast size. The better the fit, the better the suction.
6. Does the cutout shape matter?
Shields with larger cutouts will offer more skin-to-skin contact for your baby. They also might be a better fit for smaller breasts since there’s not as much surface area, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fit on larger breasts.
7. What’s the difference between balms/nipple remedies and cooling gel pads?
Gel pads offer comfort and protection in addition to the benefits of a breast pad, like absorption. Balms and remedies need to be applied directly to the nipple and risk coming off on the pad. That being said, they offer immediate relief, comfort, and healing properties.
There are so many benefits of breastfeeding and pumping to feed your baby. That said, there are common variables that will make the process difficult or at the very least, an adjustment. Our list takes the guesswork out of what will work best for you and your baby. Shields, balms/remedies, pads, and flanges are all necessary items to make your breastfeeding/pumping journey more enjoyable for both you and your baby.