For the most part I would recommend avoiding them as well. However, they have their time and place. My first child was severely tongue tied and it wasn't caught at birth. I ended up with infections and bloody cracked nipples, would nurse gripping something with an iron fist and tears rolling down my face trying not to scream. Once we finally got her tongue clipped at day 17, there was so much damage the only way I could continue to nurse and allow my nipples to heal was to use a shield. I have scarring to this day.
I found when I was weaning her from using them that it seemed to work well to start with the shield on and then once she got nursing good I would quickly pop it off and get my nipple in there. Took a little practice and convincing for her, but we made it.
I agree!!!!! I had trouble getting my first baby to latch so the nurse said "You have flat nipples. Use this." I used the nipple shield and she latched and I thought it was great. Until the second day or so... and then it was a nightmare. It hurt. I figured out I DIDN'T have flat nipples (I was young and clueless) and the stress of trying to get her to latch without the shield was too much for me at the time. I was overwhelmed by other things going on at the time and I ended up just pumping for two months and then switching to formula :(
My second latched beautifully and had no trouble whatsoever.
Flat nipples my @$$. The dumb shield caused a lot of problems for me (although I guess you could argue that my lack of self-education caused the problem as well...).