Be encouraged! I used a nipple shield with my first baby for 2 months. Over time, baby will grow bigger, stronger, and more adept at nursing and eventually you can go without it. After much frustration in the hospital, the consultant gave me one, and it never left my side. I washed it after each use and then tucked it into my bra. Also used a Medela pump so Dad could handle a feeding in the night. I found baby could transition just fine from breast, to bottle, & back etc with a little bit of patience. Never supplemented with formula. SO many first time moms have flat or inverted nipples, thank goodness for the shield because it's a great option. Follow your instincts and with a little patience you'll be able to transition in or out of what works best for you and your baby.
Nipple Shield - Page 2
boy i wish my hospital had pushed a shield, they didn't even tell me they existed! and by day 4 we sadly gave a bottle of expressed milk to my twins. after getting home the next day and getting online i found out about them and got one and low and behold got my twins to latch on it by day 10. i think by that point we had formed some really bad bottle habits that were continued in the blur of newborn twins. although we did ween off the shield around 5 weeks maybe, we did not have the same luck weening on the bottle, that took 6 MONTHS! at one point we actually used the shield again, to help them get used to the breast again after too many bottles, so they have a number of uses.
in the end i have 9 month old twins that have a wonderful nursing relationship and we plan on sticking with it for a long time. my huge wish was that anyone had offered my a shield to try before the bottles, they would have been such a little bump in the road instead of the sinkhole we got caught in. all this with a Ped doc and a LC that supposedly were there to support my breastfeeding goals.
We used a shield until my son was five months old, including a one-month nursing strike where he would not latch from my breast at all. He's now over a year old (how did that happen?) and still nursing. I had a really good supply, so I never had problems with that from the shield. What eventually helped me was drying off my nipple- he had gotten used to the "dry" feeling of the shield- and he started latching with that. The shield was a necessary evil in my experience, but don't worry- weaning off it can definitely happen.