How to Use Breast Shells

Breast shells are plastic bra inserts used to alleviate sore nipples or to draw out inverted nipples for breastfeeding 1. The shells generally come in two pieces, a rounded front and a back with a hole for the nipple and have two different backs, one with a larger hole to treat sore nipples by protecting them from rubbing, and one with a smaller hole to press the nipples outward. Dr. Sears, a respected pediatrician, recommends only wearing breast shells for 30 minutes before a feeding, as shells can cause leakage or other breast problems 1.

Use for Inverted Nipples

Attach the back piece with the smaller opening to the domed front piece.

Insert your nipple through the small opening of the breast shell so the opening is right around the base of the nipple.

Put your bra on over the breast shell, making sure the bra fits correctly. Pressure from the bra against the breast shell and your nipple will gradually allow the nipple to move outward.

Remove bra and breast shell before breastfeeding.

Using for Sore Nipples

Insert the back piece with the larger opening into the front domed piece.

Insert the nipple through the back opening. There should not be pressure on the nipple with the larger opening, as it is intended to protect the nipple from rubbing against your bra.

Put your bra on over the breast shells 1.

Remove bra and breast shells before breastfeeding 1.


Breast shells should only be worn when necessary and are not meant for long-term or daily use. Breast shells are not meant to be worn at night, as you must be aware of the shells shifting and putting unnecessary pressure on your breasts and nipples and possibly causing engorgement or mastitis.

Be sure to wash shells in hot water and soap between uses.

Do not use any milk that is collected in the breast shells.