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Breast milk production in women who use nipple shields for persistent nipple pain

Coentro, V.S., Lai, C.T., Rea, A., Turlach, B., Geddes, D.T. and Perrella, S.L. (2022) Breast milk production in women who use nipple shields for persistent nipple pain. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 51 (1). pp. 73-82.

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To examine relationships between nipple pain scores and 24-hour milk production volumes, breastfeeding and pumping frequencies, and breastfeeding duration in women using nipple shields for persistent nipple pain.


Secondary outcome analysis of a prospective cohort study.


Research laboratory and participants’ homes.


Twenty-five breastfeeding women (6 ± 4 weeks after birth) who used nipple shields for persistent nipple pain.


We conducted a randomized trial to investigate the primary outcome of milk transfer with and without nipple shields among participants with and without nipple pain. Here, we report secondary outcomes of associations between 24-hour milk production, breastfeeding and pumping frequencies, breastfeeding durations, and intake in participants using a nipple shield for nipple pain. Participants completed demographic, health and breastfeeding questionnaires and, at two monitored breastfeeding sessions, completed a pain visual analogue scale and Brief Pain Inventory–Short Form (BPI-SF; total and subscale scores for pain interference with General Activity, Mood, Sleep, and Breastfeeding). Milk production (milliliters per 24 hours), feed volumes, and percentage of available milk removed were calculated from data and milk samples obtained by participants over one 24-hour period and at study visits. Participants logged 24-hour data on a customized research website. We used descriptive statistics as well as simple and multiple linear regression for analyses.


Milk production and feeding duration were not associated with nipple pain scores (visual analogue scale: p = .80, BPI-SF: p = .44). An increase in BPI-SF Breastfeeding subscale score of 1 unit, indicating pain interference with breastfeeding, was associated with a 0.28 decrease in 24-hour breastfeeding frequency (p = .02) and an 18.8-ml decrease in 24-hour breastfeeding intake (p = .04).


Persistent nipple pain was associated with reduced breastfeeding frequency; therefore, continuing professional support is required to ensure adequate milk removal and pain management.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry and Physics
Publisher: Elsevier
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