Why do mothers use nipple shields and how does this influence duration of exclusive breastfeeding?

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The present study addressed the contentious discussions about the benefits and risks of nipple shield use. The objective was to explore self-reported reasons for using a nipple shield and examine associations pertaining to the mother, the infant and duration of breastfeeding. Data were collected from 4815 Danish mothers (68%) who filled out a self-administered questionnaire with open and closed question. Data were analyzed by content and statistical descriptive and multivariable analysis. Results showed that 22% of the mothers used nipple shields in the beginning and 7% used it the entire breastfeeding period. Primiparae used nipple shields more often than multiparae, and early breastfeeding problems as well as background factors like lower age, education and higher body mass index were associated with a higher likelihood of using nipple shields. Characteristics of infants associated with introducing nipple shields were lower- gestational age and birthweight. The use of nipple shields was furthermore found to be associated with a threefold increased risk of earlier cessation of exclusive breastfeeding: among primiparae odds ratio = 3.80 (confidence interval 2.61-5.53); among multiparae odds ratio = 3.33 (confidence interval 1.88-5.93). Mothers' own descriptions underlined how various early breastfeeding problems led to the use of nipple shields. Some mothers were helped through a difficult period; others described the use creating a kind of dependence. The results highlight how nipple shields may help breastfeeding mothers in the early period but is not necessarily a supportive solution to the inexperienced mother who needs extra support in the early process of learning to breastfeed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12251
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

ID: 154183399