DD is almost 16 mo, bedsharing, and still breastfeeding day and night.
We were on a nice, long easy BFing stretch from about 5mo until nearly 14mo, where we had very little issues. She did wake several times a night to nurse, but it was tolerable. I would essentially sleep through, cracking an eye just enough to latch her. No problem, lots of sleep, a very beautiful thing.
At Christmas, she self-weaned from her pacifier, and immediately started using me as a pacifier ALL NIGHT LONG. In theory, I am all for it, but in practice, I was hurting and could not take it. At night her latch would quickly become really shallow and sloppy, but I wouldn't become aware of it until the trauma was already done to my nipples. Continuing to nurse on damaged nipples was excruciating, and my frustration escalated and resentment bubbled. My sleep escaped me, and she wasn't sleeping well either with me popping her off constantly, then her wailing.
A couple weeks passed, then we decided we needed to set boundaries on night nursing so I can finally get relief. We had to do it fast, because I was so raw I'd bawl every time we nursed and the trauma was starting to put space between DD and I emotionally.
We simple offered other forms of comfort in place of nursing, and limited nursing to 2-3x/night. It did the trick, and got us back on a bearable routine.
With night nursing occurring just a few times, the extreme pain subsided though I was still having to deal with her shallow latch and some discomfort. Sleeping through her nursings was a thing of the past, but it was tolerable since it wasn't all night.
Slowly, the sloppy latching seeped into day nursing too. I tried to correct her when I could, and she even learned the cue "open wide" and "big latch, now", and would stretch her mouth wide open. That would feel better for a few moments, until she would pull off and make her latch shallow again, :( When she pulls off, my left nipple is in the shape of lipstick.
I consulted her pediatrician, an IBCLC, to see what can be done. She said it was likely behavioral. to BE CONSISTENT, which I wasn't doing that great of a job with because I was so used to the discomfort of a shallow latch that it didn't always occur to me to stop it.
It's still not feeling right, a couple weeks later, and I still have lipstick nipple . I asked a group of BFing friends if there is any other explanation... they zeroed in on the mention of lipstick nipple and suggested she might have a high arched/bubble palate. I took pictures, and sure enough, she does have one, though they said it was relatively minor compared to what it could be. She also has an upper lip tie, with a biggish gab between her two front teeth.
So I need help figuring out how to latch her knowing this. I also need to figure out a way to deal with night time nursing, because even though she is nursing just a few times, it still hurts (just not as bad as it did), and there are times that it gets unbearable and I HAVE to take her off in the middle of the night, and she's bawling and I'm frustrated....
I also am wondering why this problem is starting up now, at 16 months.
The only reasonable theory I can come up with is that before her pacifier weaning, DD DID NOT comfort nurse, hardly, ever. She would nurse for milk, then pop off and want her pacifier. At night, she had her pacifier, until she wanted milk, then she would nurse. I'm thinking she had a shallow "latch" for comfort sucking on her pacifier, then had her correct latch on the breast for her milk. When she dropped the pacifier, the two latches sort of melded and got confused, so that she was using her comfort sucking latch most of the time.