Breast feeding study – understanding the effects of nipple shield use

Project Plan

I am Viviane Coentro, a PhD student at UWA studying nipple shield use in breastfeeding mothers. I am working in this area of research because I am a passionate about breastfeeding and I want to help the mothers who are having breastfeeding concerns.

Human Lactation Research aims to better understand the synthesis and secretion of human milk and its impacts on infants and breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding plays an important role in infant development. Effective removal of milk from the breast is critical to ensure optimal infant growth.

Many women stop breastfeeding due to pain or a perception of low milk supply. We measure milk transfer, milk production as well as sucking patterns, tongue movement, suck-swallow-breathe coordination, heart rate and oxygen saturation to identify reasons for breastfeeding difficulties and devise interventions to help resolve these issues.

Nipple pain is one of the most common causes of weaning in the postpartum period. Early weaning has a substantial impact on infant and maternal health. Despite correct positioning and attachment, some babies have a strong suck which may cause mothers persistent nipple pain, compromising adequate milk intake.

In this study we want to understand the effects of nipple shield use on breastfeeding. We would like to know whether use of a nipple shield affects the amount of milk the baby takes from the breast, and whether it changes the baby’s sucking pattern. Also, for mothers with nipple pain, we would like to know if the nipple shield is effective in reducing pain during feeding.

The results from this study will make an impact on the lives of breast feeding mothers and their babies….. Please continue to explain the impact this research will have on expectant mothers, their babies etc.

Your Support

We are looking for 2 groups of breastfeeding mothers and babies 1 – 6 months of age:

  • Mothers that are using a nipple shield for pain during breastfeeding
  • Mothers that have no breastfeeding problems

As part of the study, we will measure your baby’s oral vacuum and monitor their tongue movement during breast feeding, with and without a nipple shield, and check if there is any difference in milk volume and your comfort.


There are 3 parts to the study:

  1. Two study visits at King Edward Memorial Hospital (Subiaco)
  2. Measurement of your baby’s milk intake when breastfeeding over a 24h period
  3. Follow up telephone call/s

At the study visits we will monitor your baby while you breastfeed. You will be asked to breastfeed with a nipple shield at one visit, and without a nipple shield at one visit. The visits typically last 60 – 90 minutes.

You will be loaned a set of baby scales to weigh your baby before and after each breastfeed at home for one 24hr period. Your baby’s weights are used to measure the total amount of milk taken at the breast.

We will phone you when your baby turn 6 months of age to ask you some questions about your baby’s feeding.

Mothers will receive:

– Information about their infant’s milk intake at the breast and feeding patterns

– Referral to breastfeeding support services if required

– Refreshments at the end of each study visit

Thank you for your interest in our study

To get involved, please click here. Together we can learn more about the effects of nipple shields on breastfed babies’ sucking patterns. This information will be used to better support mothers with nipple pain during breastfeeding.