Breast Shells (also known as milk cups, breast shields, breast cups or nursing cups) are one of those obscure breastfeeding products that confuses a lot of moms. You may have never heard of breast shells until they were recommended by a lactation consultant or a friend.
The type of breast shield you need will depend on what you need to use them for. We’ve done all the research for you and found the best breast shields on the market. Check it out.
Top 5 Breast Shell Reviews
Medela Soft Shells
Soft Shells – These are available with either the large back for sore nipples or the smaller back for flat, inverted or engorged nipples. Only one back is provided with a pack so ensure you buy the correct one for your needs. These also come with a foam insert to absorb any milk leaks.
TheraShells – Come with both a smaller back and a larger back however don’t come with the foam insert.
These breast shells are made with a soft, flexible silicone back to mold to your body. The cupped part provides structure but just enough to be fairly discreet when using. They also have a vented top to allow your air to circulate on your nipple and prevent soreness.
These breast shells are highly recommended for mums in the early days of breastfeeding. You nipples will often be sensitive and are more likely to become engorged as you milk supply establishes. They are not intended to collect milk so if you have an abundant milk supply or leak heavily they may not be the solution for you.
O-cal-ette Nursing Cup
Moms love these O-cal-ette nursing cups and they come highly recommended especially by women from older generations. These are known as Swedish nursing cups. 1970s moms used them and still recommended 40 years later for their daughters. If you have sore or engorged breast they are a life saver. If you need time to heal very deep nipple sore then these are the best on the market.
The hard plastic shell design is fantastic for collecting any leaking milk. Moms rave about how these nursing cups hold around 2-3oz of milk without leaking. As these catch a lot of milk, most moms noted how they saved a lot of money as they greatly reduced the number of breast pads they used.
It should be noted that the hard plastic design may not be comfortable for all women. As with most breast shells one of the biggest drawback was the classic ‘mushroom’ look under clothes when wearing them. If you really want to wear in public, one mom suggested that wearing under a padded bra gives a more natural look.
Silverette Nursing Cups
If you need a solution or a prevention to cracked and sore breasts, the Silverette nursing cups are the answer. Popular in Europe and new to the USA, these pure silver cups have a great reputation. Don’t fall into the trap of sore nipples causing problems for you and baby especially in those first difficult weeks. These can literally save breastfeeding for you.
If you are prone to breastfeeding sore, cuts, rashes etc. you won’t believe how quickly these heal your breasts. They are expensive but moms who use them state they are worth every cent without a doubt.
Silver is well known to have healing and antibacterial properties and widely used in medicine. The cups are small and molded, apply with suction created from a few drops of breast milk. You can place a breast pad over the top to catch any leaks. They are designed to be used at all times when not expressing or nursing.
Milkies Milk Saver
Want to keep an emergency stash of breast milk but not keen o using a breast pump? Then check out the award winning Milkies milk savers. These breast shields are an ingenious solution if you hate the thought of wasting even one drop of breast milk.
These innovative breast shield are shaped similar to other breast shells. They have a small bag attached inside to collect your milk. Use them on your free breast as you nurse or express, and catch any leaks. You can use these whilst out and about as they are streamline when empty, but remember they will bulk as the fill.
The shells can hold around 2-3oz before needing emptied, so remember to keep a storage container close by to decant and prevent any spillage. These are so easy to clean – wash in warm soapy water or a dishwasher. You may also want to sterilize to and would easily fit into a microwave sterilizer for convenience.
The biggest bugbear with the milk savers was the cost. Each pack comes with one saver. You will need to buy two pack at a cost of around $60 if you want to do both breast at the same time. However, if you don’t want to express it will help you keep a milk supply. Plus they are a lot cheaper and easier than using a breast pump.
Philips Avent Comfort Breastshells
These Avent breast shells are a budget friendly solution if you leak a lot, or need to ‘air’ your breasts to heal sore nipples. The pack comes with both vented and non-vented cups. This means they are suitable to use to provide protection for sore nipples as well as milk savers without the spillage.
Moms highly rated the vented cups for the soft back which was comfortable to wear when their nipples were sore. The cups are large and curved to allow plenty of space for air to circulate.
The non-vented collection shell is great to use on your ‘free’ breast whilst you feed or express to catch any leaks. Most moms were able to collect around 2oz without any spilling. One of the features moms loved was that they worked well in all breastfeeding positions, including lying down.
The most common niggle with these breast shells were that they are not very discreet when you use them. If you are looking for shells to wear in public, these may not be for you, especially if you have large breasts.
What are breast shells?
Designed with structured lightweight plastic, with a hole on one side from your nipple and curved on the other. The have many uses including collecting leaking milk, preventing chafing of sore nipple and extracting flat or inverted nipples. It’s easy to ‘air’ your sore nipples as the structured cup holds your clothing away and air can circulate. For flat or inverted nipples breast shells work by placing gentle pressure onto the areola and causing the nipple to protrude.
How to use breast shells
Place the breast shell into your bra and insert your nipple through the opening. Breast shells can be a bit bulky, so you may want to wear a bra which is a cup size larger than your normal size.
It is recommended that breast shells are worn from short periods of the time during the day (40 min-1hr at a time). You should not wear breast shells while you sleep. It is important to give your nipples a rest between wear, prolonged use may start to cause you problems. One reason for this is that the areola is softened when wear, and can lead cause sore nipples. The second reason is that slight pressure place on the breast when wearing breast shells may cause blocked cuts or mastitis.
Breast Shells should be washed daily and if you are collecting milk to store, should be sterilized between uses.