At a glance
- Soft, snug-fitting silicone back feels comfortable on sensitive skin
- Ventilation holes allow skin to breathe, promoting healing
- Flexible, to adapt to the shape of your breast
- Can be worn all day between breastfeeds
- Look natural under your clothes
How can breast shells help cracked or sore nipples?
Breastfeeding is a special time, but it isn’t always straightforward. You may find you have sore or even cracked nipples, especially during the early days, when you and your baby are both learning. After all, your sensitive nipples simply aren’t used to the pressure and suction of your baby feeding regularly. Any discomfort should gradually ease – if it doesn’t, seek advice from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. In the meantime, wearing breast shells (also known as nipple shells) between feeds can help prevent your clothing rubbing against tender nipples while helping to promote healing.
Tackling different types of nipple issues
While sensitive or sore nipples are common in new mums, sometimes discomfort can occur because of the position you’re breastfeeding in, or because your baby has a poor breastfeeding latch, so again it’s a good idea to get assessed by a lactation expert or breastfeeding specialist in these circumstances. If you experience bleeding nipples, severe breastfeeding pain, or have symptoms of a breast infection, such as mastitis, it’s important to see your healthcare professional.
How do breast shells work?
Breast shells fit inside your bra to prevent fabric rubbing against sensitive or sore nipples, allowing your skin to recover and promoting healing. It’s a good idea to wear a nursing bra when using breast shells, as these tend to be a bit roomier than a typical bra, so it’s easier to fit them inside. However, you don’t need to worry about Medela breast shells showing through your clothes, as their low-profile shape ensures a natural look. You can wear breast shells continuously between breastfeeding sessions, but avoid using them in bed at night, as this can aggravate sore nipples.
How to use Medela breast shells
Medela breast shells have two parts: a soft, flexible silicone membrane that feels comfortable on sensitive skin, and an outer shell with ventilation holes to allow your skin to breathe. They fit together easily:
- Place the membrane on to the outer shell, ensuring it snaps on all the way around.
- Put the assembled breast shell inside your bra, with the opening in the membrane centred over your nipple. The holes should point upwards.
Some of you breast milk may collect the nipple shells as you wear them. You should not feed this to your baby – pour it away when you clean the shells (see below).
Cleaning your breast shells
As with all breastfeeding accessories, hygiene is important. Before wearing breast shells for the first time – and once a day after that – sanitise them by following these quick and easy steps:
- Place the separated breast shell parts in a small pan filled with cold water – distilled is best, but if you use tap water, you can add a teaspoon of citric acid to help avoid limescale from building up.
- Bring the water to the boil, and continue to boil for about five minutes.
- Drain the water away carefully, and leave the breast shell parts to dry on a clean cloth.
- Alternatively, you could use a Medela Quick Clean™ microwave bag.
You must also clean your breast shells after each use. Separate the parts and wash with a mild cleaning solution. Then rinse thoroughly in cold water and dry on a clean cloth.
Medela breast shells come in packs of two. Configuration may vary from country to country.