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Tell me how you moved from nipple shield to breast only...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I thought DD and I were doing well while at the hospital. Althought I have inverted nipples she was nursing every 2 hours or so, sleeping well, and having the right number of soiled diapers (fewer pees ones though on day 4 than she "should" have). My nipples were pulling out more each day.

We left the hospital on day 4 and about 2 hours before we left the LC came in and "helped" by putting a nipple shield on me. I had no information on nipple shields and she didn't tell me about their drawbacks. Just a random comment that she'd like, "to see you off the nipple shield within 2 weeks." Well, I will never be seeing this LC again. So, what she wants is quite irrelevant.

DD nursed great for the next 36 hours and I realized how much easier nursing with the shield on was...both for her and for me. This didn't sit well with me. Not that I think bf should be a challenge always I just think in the first days/weeks position and latch matter...right? So I googled about nipple shields and read about how they aren't really a fix just a patch/tool that will now have to be overcome.

So, I called around and found an IBCLC to come to the house on Wednesday and she got DD on the breast without the shield. (DD had been refusing.) We had 3 nursing sessions completely without the shield but DD spent an hour crying for every 10 minutes of nursing. The 4th session DD cried for almost 2 hours and wouldn't stay latched on. I put the nipple shield back on and she nursed content for 30 minutes. I haven't been able to get her on just the breast for more than a suck or two (except for the odd 5 minutes at the end of the session here and there) since Thursday at 6am.

I am much more settled though not having her scream for so long (it hurts me!) but wondering if I am doing the right thing by allowing the use of the nipple shield?

So tell me aobut how you did it. How much crying was involved (both parties!) and were you eventually off of it altogether? Thanks for the help!

post #2 of 10

Congratulations on your new baby girl, but sorry you are having these issues. :( It sucks when the so called professionals make matters worse instead of better.


We used nipple sheilds with DD starting at about 6 days old (after 3 days of beligerantly resisting the breast followed by 3 days of syringe feeding.) By 3 weeks, we were only using them sporadically, and we totally weaned off them by 4 weeks. For us, I felt that any kind of pressuring DD to nurse could cause a return to our previous issues, so I was very careful not to let her cry or be stressed. What I felt worked best was to let her start nursing with the sheild and after 30 sec (or less, experiment and see what works), unlatch her, remove the sheild and she'd almost always latch back on and finish nursing without it. At 3 weeks I started having her nurse without the sheild when she was happy and content, but still allowed her to use it if she was upset. Over the course of the week we needed it less and less often and by the end of the week we put it away permanently.


Good luck mama! You can do this! It's great that you are doing what's best for your baby! If you have any more questions about our experience please don't hesitate to ask and I'm happy to go into more detail! 

post #3 of 10

Big hugs, mama!  Oh, how I remember those days with the nipple shield - I was so stressed out about it, and felt I had to be doing something wrong and was trying to utilize so many resources to figure it out.  It is the last thing a new mother needs to be dealing with!


Anyways, here is my story.  I finally stopped stressing about it when he was a few weeks old - I figured he was nursing, gaining weight very well, no pain for me, and so it was okay.  My goal was to nurse him, and I was doing that.  Sure, it was inconvenient and I had to wash them and it made the thought of nursing outside of the home scary, but it was okay.  Every now and then, I'd try to get him to latch on without the shield, but usually it didn't work and he got upset, so I just went back to the shield.  And when I say every now and then, I mean like maybe once a week?  It wasn't often - I wasn't very persistent with it.


At around 9 weeks old, I tried one day to get him to latch on without the shield, and he DID!  And he nursed with no problem.  I tried again the next nursing session, on the other side, trying not to get my hopes up, and he latched on again!  And that was it!  We continued to nurse, shield-free, until he was 3.5 years old love.gif


So, obviously it's a different experience for everyone, and what worked for me might not work for you.  However, my advice would be not to stress - to know that you are feeding your child, and that is the priority.  If you have issues with weight gain, then you can be more proactive in getting rid of the shield.  But if you are both doing fine, then just relax and don't beat yourself up about it.  And then just keep trying occasionally to get her to latch on without it - maybe she will, maybe she won't, either way it's okay.  You don't have to try every day if it's too frustrating.  But hopefully, as she gets bigger and more skilled at nursing, she'll manage to latch on without it.  I think part of my problem was that I have large breasts, and they are quite soft and my nipples are somewhat flat, so it was just too hard for a little newborn mouth to take it in and latch on.  I think once he was a bit bigger, he could manage.


Again, big hugs, and I hope you can work through it.  And even if you don't, and you can't wean off the shield, it's okay - I've already read about lots of moms who used nipple shields for a long time, and while it might not be ideal, they are still nourishing their kids.  Good luck!

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you both for your stories, encouragement, and help! I really appreciate it!!!

Tryingfortwo- YES! I have big, soft breasts with smallish nipples (they were inverted but that has resolved mostly over the previous week! orngbiggrin.gif) and most of the time I cannot even see if she is latched properly because of my breast being in the way.

Thank you both for the frame that I am still feeding my child (every hour! as we are now in the 1 week growth spurt! orngbiggrin.gif) and just to relax. This is a brief stage even if it doesn't feel that way right now. Thank you again for your support!!!

post #5 of 10

I'm glad you are feeling a bit better about it, Jenne!


One other thing that might be useful to you, since you also have large, soft breasts and flatter nippes (my nipples also became more prominent with more nursing, but have never been very large).  I found that the cross-cradle hold, with DS lying on a nursing pillow across my lap, and my hand holding my breast from underneath (the same side hand as breast) worked well.  So for example, my left hand held my left breast, and kind of compressed it to make a more firm and narrower place for my DS to latch onto - I think some people called it sandwiching.  It's funny, because my mom was really getting on my case about using the nipple shield (she was very big into LLL when my brother was little), and kind of stressing me out about it.  And then, when I finally got DS off the shield and was telling her how I kind of squeezed my breast to make it easier for him to latch on, she goes, oh, I totally forgot - I had inverted nipples and I had to make a sandwich so your brother could latch on!  I'm like, seriously, you couldn't remember that little piece of advice when you were telling me how bad the nipple shield was??? eyesroll.gif


So anyways, I don't know if that will help you, but it worked really well for me.  It did have some downsides - I never got comfortable doing the traditional cradle hold, which made it hard to nurse out in public.  I think if I had used the opposite hand to hold the breast in the same way, but kind of squeezing more from the side, it probably would have worked - but I just found it very awkward, and like my breasts were too large to have everything positioned correctly.  I'm not sure if it was my technique, or just my anatomy, or something else that made the cradle position hard.  DS also had a large, heavy head, so my arm got really tired holding it!  That's why having him cross cradle worked well, as his head was resting on the nursing pillow.  Anyways, it worked for us, and as I said, he nursed until he was 3.5 (yes, still using the nursing pillow that whole time yikes.gif)  We just didn't do much nursing in public, since I didn't want to carry around the nursing pillow all the time!


Anyways, feel free to ask more questions or PM me smile.gif  I remember those early days of nursing, it definitely wasn't easy and, combined with all those new mommy hormones, very emotional and stressful!  But, we found our groove and it became one of the most rewarding aspects of motherhood for me! 

post #6 of 10

I had the same situation as you- big soft breasts and inverted nipples. I gathered that there are basically two dangers with the nipple shield: bad latch or poor milk transfer. Well, I had a great supply and I didn't get my son to latch without the shield until he was about 15 weeks old. He was right on target for gaining, so the milk transfer was fine, and once I got him on, his latch was fine. I wish I had spent less time worrying about it. The only real problem was what a PITA it was to find the shield every time I nursed! I got him off by drying my nipple- I guess the soft, wet nipple did not feel enough like the shield to him? After I got him to do it once, he did it again and again until we didn't need the shield any more. And later, two of my friends told me they used shields until their babies were 12 weeks plus. I think it's like a dirty little secret, but I really think people need to sweat it less. If he's gaining well, why even worry?

post #7 of 10

My DS is 13 weeks and we are FINALLY off the nipple shield (I think).  We haven't used it since early Saturda morning, but I think the real test will be to see if we need it when I go nurse him at daycare today.  The LC at the hospital got us started on it on day one.  I have flatish nipples and DS wouldn't latch til I started using it.  Though I think I should've had a little more patience and tried to work a bit more that first day, but I didn't know what a PITA the shield would be and I just wanted him to nurse so bad. 


I never intended to use it long, I thought I'd be able to get him off it quickly.  I tried to offer the breast without the shield several times a day.  I would start with it then remove, dry the nipple, and sandwich it, he still refused.  I tried ice, the C hold, pumping first, nursing when he was sleepy, every trick I could find online.  Sometimes he'd latch briefly - like a few seconds - but most of the time he'd flat out refuse.  Some days I tried at every feeding and occasionally I'd give up and go a few days without even offering.  I HATED the shield, but sometimes just told myself that at least we were nursing full time, so it was better than nothing.  But it was super inconvenient - I hated always having to know where one was, washing them, losing them in the dark at nighttime feedings, nursing in public was trickier, etc.


A week ago we had a breakthrough.  I don't know what changed, but all of a sudden I could remove the shield after letdown, he would relatch, and finish the rest of the feeding!  We did that all week, though he still demanded the shield when we nursed outside the house.  Sometimes he would take the second breast without using the shield as a starter, and sometimes he needed it to start each breast.  Then this weekend he started nursing start to finish every feeding without it.  I REALLY HOPE he continues to be fine without it, but I haven't nursed him outside of home yet so we'll see.  


Be happy that you are nursing and try not to stress about it, but DO keep trying.  I hope that you can get rid of it soon.  It really feels amazing to not have to rely on it.  At times I didn't think we'd ever be able to get rid of it, but now I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It is amazing to me that even though I felt like we were not making any progress with trying to get rid of it, something finally happened.   Don't give up, even if it takes awhile.  It's taken us 13 weeks to get to this point and I've heard of moms who get stuck with it even longer. 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Barefoot Girl- Congratulations on this milestone! Update and let us know how things went at daycare...

post #9 of 10

It went great!  He latched on, no problem.  I am super excited to finally be free of the shield!!!  It's been just over 5 days now. 


I'm trying to decide if I should throw them in the garbage in celebration or try to give them away.  I don't want to get anyone started on them, but I know when you're already using them, it can be helpful to have a few extras.  I have two medela contact shields in size small and one in size extra small.

post #10 of 10

first of all, CONGRATS Jenne!!!!!! ive been so busy i haven't gotten a chance to say that to you.


secondly, i worries so much with using the shield and how i was ever going to get my little girl off it that i didn't even really notice when she wasn't using it anymore!  the two things i did do was offer her my bare bob each time we nursed, and if she didn't take to it in a short timeframe i would just use the shield, no fuss


i would also often slip the shield off after my nipple was firmed up from nursing and let her see if she wanted to finish that way.  well something worked, casue we may have some other unrelated issues, but my 2 shields are gathering dust and thats great.

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