Breast Pads and Shields
Breast shields and breast pads are two very different things, but they’re often used together. Breast shields are soft, flexible cups that fit over your nipples and help to prevent leakage during breastfeeding. They can be used in addition to breast pads or on their own. Breast pads are disposable sanitary pads that you wear inside your bra to absorb breast milk leakage.
Two kinds of breast pads
- Disposable breast pads are made of layers of absorbent tissue. When they are wet, you simply throw them away and replace them with new ones. Disposable breast pads are easy to use but may be more expensive on the long run because they are discarded. See breast pads and shields
- Re-useable breast pads are made of cottony fabric. These are washed and used again & again. It is best to have enough of these at hand so that some can be washed & dried while others are available for use. Re-useable breast pads are sturdy and can withstand many rounds of wash & dry – indeed they can be saved and used again when you have your next baby. See breast pads and shields here.
Whichever you choose, be sure that the breast pads do not have a layer plastic or waterproof material. Though these may sound good, they are actually not good for your breasts. The plastic or waterproof layer will prevent air flow and ultimately cause you trouble in the form of itch/sore nipples or breast infection.
Breast pads – where to find them
Breast pads (nursing pads) can be found in grocery stores, pharmacies, maternity shops, and online. Disposable pads are sold in packs of 50+ and cost between $10 to $15. Re-useable pads are sold in packs of 4 or 6 and cost $15+.
If you happen to run out of breast pads, or if you don’t want to buy them, you can always use layers of clean fabric, facial tissue, or toilet paper. Stuff these inside your bra so they will help absorb any leaking milk. Innovative women will even cut out fabric rounds, sew them together and use them as breast pads.
- Check some breastfeeding pads here
How often should you change a breast pad?
You should change your breast pad every two hours, or more frequently if needed. If you’re experiencing nipple pain, you may want to change it more often than that.
Breast shields (also called breast shells) are two part gadgets that you use to correct inverted and flat nipples. They can also be used when you have sore nipples and want to protect your breast from chaffing against your bra or clothing.
Do you really need breast shields? If you don’t have flat/inverted nipples then you don’t need them. Later, if your nipples are sore or cracked, then you can run out and buy some. A frugal mom can save money by covering her sore nipples with tea strainers (with the handles removed). A basic tea strainer is $3 and no one’s going to see anyway.
Breast shields – how do they work?
Breast shield are made of plastic. The first part is a flat disk with a hole in the middle. You place the disk against your breast with the nipple poking through the central hole. The second part is dome-shaped and has small holes in it. You snap the dome on top of the disk part and then wear a bra over this so that everything will be kept in place. The dome will protect the nipples so that nothing will touch them. The holes in the dome part will allow for air flow (when nipples are sore or cracked, it is important to allow them to air dry so they can heal).
Breast shells can be bought from maternity shops, from the LLL, and online. The are sold in packs of two and cost approximately $15 to $20. They are sturdy and won’t break unless you accidentally sit or step on time. One pair of breast shields should be enough and you can always save them for subsequent babies or give them to a sister or friend.
- See breast shells here
Are breast shields necessary?
They are not necessary, but they can be effective in helping you get the most out of your pump. They help you to avoid nipple pain and reduce the risk of blocked milk ducts, which can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis.
A lot of moms use both breast shields and breast pads during breastfeeding. This helps them stay dry and comfortable even if you’re going through a particularly leaky period. Breast shields are important for nursing moms who have trouble with nipple pain or latch-on problems, because they can help keep your baby’s mouth from distorting your nipple too much when she latches on for feeding time. Using breast shields also makes it easier for you to pump milk if you’d like to store some for later use!