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How Do Nipple Shields Work For Breastfeeding Mums? – A UWA Study

by BecSorby (follow)
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Are you a breastfeeding mum using a nipple shield for unexplained nipple pain? If so, the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group, based at the University of Western Australia (UWA), would like to get your help with a current study dedicated to breastfeeding mums.

The study is looking at the effects of nipple shields on babies’ sucking dynamics and the amount of milk the baby gets during breastfeeding.



To determine the shields effects, they will study two groups of mums and babies:

• Those that are using a nipple shield for nipple pain, and

• Mums and babies that don’t have any breastfeeding problems or pain.

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The primary aim of the study is to determine if the nipple shield changes the strength of the baby’s suck and subsequently the amount of milk removed during breastfeeding.

Importantly, they would also like to study whether the use of a nipple shield significantly reduces the pain and therefore the stress associated with painful breastfeeding.

In addition, there are no guidelines as to which size nipple shield should be used when assisting mothers with nipple pain. To work out the ‘best fit’ the researchers would also like to test different sizes of nipple shields and will be expressing milk using an electric breast pump. This will help standardise the conditions so that they can make better conclusions from the study.

They are looking for mothers who live in the Perth metropolitan area that are breastfeeding a baby that is between 4 weeks and 6 months of age. Babies must have been born at term, be primarily breastfed and be growing normally.

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The breastfeeding study requires 2 visits to the research room at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Subiaco. They will ask you to breastfeed your baby with a nipple shield at one visit, and without a nipple shield at another visit. During the study they will measure your baby’s sucking strength, and use a small ultrasound probe to look at your baby’s tongue movement. They will weigh your baby before and after the breastfeed and collect very small milk samples.



If your baby has a diagnosed health condition or you have a diagnosed cause of nipple pain, you may not be eligible to take part in the study. The research group is, however, running additional studies into breastfeeding that you may be able to participate in.

If you are interested in taking part in this study, or would like information about other UWA breastfeeding studies, please contact Erika van den Dries (details below.)

More information about the background of the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia is available here.

Essential Information
Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group – UWA
Location: King Edward Memorial Hospital, Subiaco
Contact: Erika van den Dries
Email: erika.vandendries@uwa.edu.au
Phone: 0488 200 298
Website: humanlactationresearchgroup.com.

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