New parents may face several hurdles when breastfeeding—and nipple discomfort caused by flat, inverted or severely cracked nipples is just one of them. Nipple shields may help.

Nipple shields work by covering the nipple as well as part of the areola, and they can aid with the latch during breastfeeding. They are made from thin silicone and come in different sizes to suit a variety of nipples.

If you're debating whether to use nipple shields, or not sure how to use them, don't fret. We talked to the experts.

Advantages of nipple shields

Two of the main uses of shields are for flat or inverted nipples, or if the baby has issues with latching.

"Nipple shields can be useful when breastfeeding a baby who is premature," said Asahela Rose, a board-certified lactation consultant and director at London-based Rosebuds Lactation Consultancy. "Research has shown that there is an increase in milk