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Cheshire 08-06-2009 03:56 PM

Tell me your nipple shield success stories. With this little one we have achieved a successful latch with the shield and I'm working on improving my supply. She is three weeks old and nurses between every two to three hours. We supplement and right now it is just about 6 to 8 ounces a day of formula.

Her weight gain has been really slow (she lost over 12% of her birth weight when we had our four day weight check) but our ped is very supportive of nursing and is not worried (she said LO looks good, is alert, having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, etc.).

I just hate having to use the shield but it is the only way I can get her to latch (I have flat nipples). I can do this with it but I'd like to wean off of it. Anyone have any success stories weaning off of a shield???

penstamon 08-06-2009 07:02 PM

I was just getting on here to post a similar thread, so I dont have good advice yet but can say that I'm right there with you.

DS lost 11% of his birth weight by day 4 and that is when we started the shield. He has done great with it but I hate the thing!

Here is a website with good tips for weaning.

I have been trying to use them but have only had one successful latch that lasted 20 seconds and that was 5 days ago.

Hang in there mama and keep me posted! We can get rid of these things

ETA: My ped had mentioned that many babies develop a better latch once they have more developed head/neck muscles beginning around one month old (ds has problems with my nipple because he has a small mouth even though my nipple is pointy).

NaturalMindedMomma 08-06-2009 07:52 PM

I could not get a comfortable latch with DD2. We are successfully using a shield now. She was gaining without the shield but my nipples were bleeding. So to heal them, I got a shield. My LC couldn't see anything wrong with my latch. You can get a good/successful latch with a shield.

I, too have flat nipples. Have you tried pumping them out first? It can help your LO latch without the shield.

Tee25 08-06-2009 11:49 PM

My LO is 6 weeks old and I dropped the shield almost 2 weeks ago with no problems. On day 4 or 5 PP I was in SO much pain...just seemed like DD's mouth was too small. So we spent 4 weeks using the sheild...saved our breastfeeding relationship that's for sure. In hindsight it we used it too long. I would have dropped it at about 3 weeks. DD's latch on the sheild wasn't the greatest and I had to hand massage a lot while she was feeding because it seemed like she was getting a weak suck because of it. Plus feedings were taking forever. Anyways, now that she is bigger and stronger a few weeks later, things are MUCH better and her latch is actually fine. No sore nipples since the shield is gone either. IMO it's also easier to work/correct her latch without the shield. I did not have any issues with weaning off the shield...maybe just don't do it when she's starving...try it in the middle of a feeding when her stomach is half full. Good luck!

Jayray 08-07-2009 01:06 PM

We used a nipple shield for almost two weeks. Similar story to the others--babe lost a lot of weight, wasn't nursing well. I was supposed to try to start weaning off the shield after a week, but I was dealing with other PP stuff and used it another week. We had our latch checked at that time and all was well, so we more or less stopped cold turkey. It can be done! Just know that when you stop using the shield, your nipples are going to be sore for a little while.

asoulunbound 08-09-2009 01:12 PM

DD was born 4 weeks early in oct, and we could not get her to latch onto my boob due to practically non existent nipples. That and she was a very lazy sleepy baby lol. LC rec. using one to get dd to eat, since she got down to about 5.5 lbs.
We used the shields that are very thin and then switched to this one
Made it a mth using it just trying to get dd to nurse, then another mth to get her to nurse w/o it. New Years eve was the last time we used them. : It was a great way to start the new year. The shield truly saved the bfing. She's a lil chunko, and now she can find my nipples san help or shields.

evening start 08-10-2009 12:09 AM

DS is 3 months old and we used a shield for the first 3 1/2 weeks due to a tight frenulum (which we had cut at 10 days). He didn't latch on or eat for the first 24 hours and we knew his frenulum was tight, so the LC in the hospital gave me the shield. It was such a relief to be able to feed him. After we got the frenulum cut, I continued to use the shield for several days to give him time to adjust to the new movements. We weaned off of it slowly. Usually I would start feeding with the shield and then after he had extended the nipple inside the shield, I would take it off and try and let him latch on naturally. At first he could only latch on occasionally, but he got the hang of it pretty quickly. I also weaned for day time feedings first, and then continued to use the shield at night for another week or so. My nipples were sore while I weaned, but nothing too extreme -- I never got cracked or bleeding nipples.

As his mouth has gotten bigger and my nipples have stretched, our latch has become practically effortless. At night I can hold a boob in front of him while we are both half asleep and he will find it and latch within seconds. I am keeping the shield in case I ever need it with future children because I really think it saved my breastfeeding relationship. In fact, I think it was beneficial beyond just the need to latch. Using the shield in the beginning allowed me to grow confident with positioning and holding DS without any nipple pain. By the time I got the sore nipples when I was weaning, I felt confident about the other aspects of breastfeeding. It was a lot less overwhelming than the experiences other new mom's have shared with me. We are now having a problem getting DS to take a bottle of EBM (which he needs to do when I work one day a week), so I actually broke out the shield again to get him used to sucking on silicon with the comfort of being on the breast .

Good luck with the shield, and don't worry too much. As your DD gets bigger she will stretch your nipple (and her mouth will get bigger) both of which will allow her to nurse without the shield. When she's ready, I don't think you should have any problem weaning.

jecombs 08-10-2009 04:36 PM

I used shields with my DD for the first 3 mo. of her life. My nips were flat and her mouth was just sooo small. They truely saved our BFing relationship. DD weaned from the shields around 3 mo. old and continued to nurse without problems until just recently (she's 2).

Hang in there! Your LO's mouth will get bigger and he will gain better head and neck control, which makes nursing so much easier.

penstamon 08-10-2009 06:27 PM

We had a full successful nursing session without the shield this morning at 3w :::

But not since then. Oh well, as the LC said: two steps forward, one step back.

Hang in there OP!

bundy 08-16-2009 07:49 PM

Hi Cheshire,

I was using a shield for almost 8 weeks. I remember being so worried, thinking I would never get off, but I kept offering, and eventually it worked.
I remember thinking at 2 weeks, at 4 weeks and at 6 weeks, that I was destined to nurse with it forever, but I just kept offering, and eventually it worked! It was painful in the beginning, but we muscled through it. The shield made our nursing relationship possible and for that I am thankful!
BTW my DD is 4 months and 18 lbs.!

HappiLeigh 08-16-2009 09:24 PM

Originally Posted by jecombs View Post
I used shields with my DD for the first 3 mo. of her life. My nips were flat and her mouth was just sooo small. They truely saved our BFing relationship. DD weaned from the shields around 3 mo. old and continued to nurse without problems until just recently (she's 2).

Hang in there! Your LO's mouth will get bigger and he will gain better head and neck control, which makes nursing so much easier.
That's pretty much my story too. We nursed for 2 years, with the first three months on the nipple shield. I found that with the shield she had to nurse *forever* to get enough milk--her feedings got much shorter after she weaned from them. I never had to supplement, though, I just spent a lot of time nursing. But it worked!

babybirkel 08-16-2009 11:05 PM

I had flat nipples too and he just fought the breast and wouldn't latch but from 3wks to ~9wks we used the nipple shield. I was worried that we would always have to use it, but I just kept offering without it and finally -- FINALLY -- he latched without it at 9wks.

The shield did cause some soreness and cracking...I don't know if it simply wasn't the right size or what, but it would hurt sometimes. And then I got mastitis, which sucked.

BUT: at 9 weeks, after going through hell and a round of antibiotics, we have been nursing pain-free and shield-free ever since.

Just keep offering without the shield. I think I read somewhere (Jack Newman?) that most babies will latch without the shield by 8 weeks.

The nipple shield literally saved our nursing relationship. I think sometimes hospitals give them out like candy and they can be overused, but they can also be an extremely useful tool.

bedheadmaestro 08-17-2009 07:13 AM

Ditto all of the above. We used ours from 3 days to 3 months and once my DD's mouth got bigger and we both got more confident, one day she just did not need them anymore and that was that. A great feeling. I don't believe I've heard of anybody whose child never, ever weaned off the shield.

penstamon 08-17-2009 06:22 PM

Updating to say that we had officially fully weaned off the shield at 3.5w.

I think ds went through a growth spurt- I just kept offering the nipple and one day he kept taking it and never looked back. What really helped was making a "boob sandwich" to get enough of the areola in his mouth for him to latch properly. After a few days this has become less necessary.

It does hurt now that he is on the nipple exclusively but it is getting better with the help of some lanolin and nipple butter.

pumpkin 08-17-2009 06:57 PM

We are still using the nipple shield at 5 months. Large breasts and nipples that for some strange reason shrink during nursing instead of being drawn out. Yes its more hassle then nothing, but it saved breastfeeding for us so I'm happy. So far no luck getting rid of it. We haven't had any problems from using it. DD gets plenty of milk. Breasts drain well. The only problem is that I have to be sure DD doesn't grab it to start playing with it. I know we will get rid of it eventually, but even if we can't I'll happily use it until DD weans.

aet.tea 08-20-2009 03:29 PM

We are also nipple shield users - at 12.5 weeks. DD was born 3 weeks early and had a very small mouth; we were unable to latch without the shield. At the beginning I was sure it was only going to be a few weeks. Since then I have tried her without the shield every day. She'll lick the breast, sometimes rubs her mouth back and forth across it but doesn't seem to understand she needs to suck it in. IT just makes her frustrated, and I put the shield back on. Anyone else have this and overcome it?

The ironic thing is, now we're working with her with a bottle so I can go back to work one day a week, and she doesn't like that either. The only way she has drunk anything from the bottle is if we put the nipple shield over the bottle nipple!

ellairiesmom 08-20-2009 08:53 PM

DD wouldn't latch at all for 1st 3 weeks-I exclusively pumped & worked with multiple LCs & my Mom who is an L&D nurse & BF'd all 4 of us. I was determined to only BF & everyday anyone who called to check in would get an earful of crying & emotion from me because it was all so overwhelming & not what I thought the 1st 3 weeks would be like (it never is!) Everyday we would work with DH dropping glucose drops on the nippleshield & trying to get her to latch. We even tried the SNS feeder (brutal process-was up all night just to get a few ounces in her).

One morning, just her & I in bed, & she did it...she just latched on to the shield & never looked back. We did the shield for 3 months & then day when I tried without it...she just latched onto the nipple as if she always had done that.

She turns 2 in Sept, is still nursing & we have another on the way. I will never forget those days & how tough it was but it made my relationship with her closer than I could ever imagine (like we survived a war together!) and gave me confidence as a new EVENTUALLY gave me confidence as a new mother lol.

GardenStream 08-20-2009 09:00 PM

Yes, I had to use one the first few weeks with DS1. I now believe that he had tongue tie issues, but we were in Germany and nobody ever mentioned it. Anyway, it took a couple weeks of trying to nurse without the shield (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) until we finally gave up the nipple shield.

He is now over 3 and is still nursing and DS2 was a wonderful nurser since about 2 minutes after he came out.

You can do this and have a great nursing relationship even after a rocky start.

Alistar13 03-04-2011 07:50 PM


This is how I got my son off the nipple shield.

I saw several lactation consultants to help my baby nurse. We had lots of issues: flat nipples, large (DD) / firm breast tissue, baby’s chin was recessed, he was weak due to jaundice, I had introduced bottles of expressed milk and he really preferred the ease of bottle nipples... its no wonder we had such a hard time. All of these issues were culminating in him not gaining enough weight to please my pediatricians which created more stress on me with weekly weigh-ins and the guilt that maybe I should have been giving him formula. But the lactation consultants I saw were wonderful and supportive, and finally we got him to accept a nipple shield. At first I thought it was a miracle cure because I could finally give my baby the milk directly and didn’t have to give bottle, pump, clean equipment, (sleep?) then give bottle again continuously throughout the day and night. However continuing the kind of long-term nursing I desired (1 year at least) with the shield was becoming nearly impossible. By 3 months I was starting to think I would have to give up. Then, by chance, I met a mother who had weaned her baby off of the nipple shield at 3 ½ months. My son was 4 months at the time so I quickly made an appointment with the same lactation consultant who had helped her.

These are the exact steps I took.

1. Fit. I got the smallest nipple shield that would fit my nipple – don’t get too small because you can injure the nipple if it rubs against the sides too much. I had started off with the “Medium” size because that’s what the store had but then switched to the “Small” size per this consultants direction. It might benefit you to actually measure your nipple or buy several sizes. The concept is if the baby can get used to a smaller size in its mouth it can learn to accept the smaller size of the nipple.

2.  Try, try, try (until you want to cry!) Every single nursing I would begin by trying to give him the bare nipple – just for a few moments, never letting him get too upset. Then I would put the nipple shield on and do a regular nursing. I experimented with taking it off just before he was finished and then playing around with the nipple. I think ultimately was solution was the playing.

3. Play! I turned it into a game. I would bop him on the nose with the nipple, I would squirt milk into his mouth, I would pretend the nipple was sneaking up on him again and bop him on the lips. His mouth would be open from laughing so I would quick sneak it in there, and he would think that was hilarious! Funny sound effects, goofy faces, and lots of smiles reinforced that this was supposed to be a fun, happy time. This play time was part of the routine during the times he was not being nursed to sleep.

4. Patience. 2 – 3 weeks later we had just gotten home from a play date. He was a little over hungry but not yet fussy, he was also ready for a nice long nap. I opened my shirt and gave him a gentle bop on the nose and he latched on like he had been doing it his whole life! My nearly 5 month old son was nursing; I really could not believe it. Now this was by not the end, there were still some residual issues that could not have been resolved without my lactation consultant. We switched back and forth between bare and shielded for a little over a week to make sure he was taking in enough milk. I also went back to the lactation consultant for a precise before-and-after weigh-in to verify he was getting the same milk as he had been with the shield. We needed help with our nursing position too. Previously I had been doing a poor football style hold but when he stopped using the nipple shield we switched to him laying on the boppy in more of a cross-cradle hold. 

I think there were several key contributing factors to why this method worked for me and my son. I think there is this kind of golden age that starts for some babies at 3 months where they start to be able to nurse more on their own. They are aware of what they want, how to get it and they are starting to have enough motor skills to actively take part in the nursing. The biggest factor was the lactation consultant telling me to try one more time. And really that is motherhoods greatest lesson: if something is not working, try something new. Instead of being stressed out about not being able to nurse him in public, hating pumping, having to clean the shields all the time - I turned it into a game that made us both giggle. I hope this helps you and good luck!

ThriftyCupcake 09-24-2011 05:55 PM

This isn't a success story yet, but I hope it will be in the future! My DD was born Aug 29th and after a few very painful (bleeding, cracked nipples) days, the lactation consultant provided me with a nipple shield to work with my flat nipples and my babies "bubble palate." She was pushing my nipple up into the round, curved surface of the roof of her mouth even with a good latch. After a few weeks, we have started working on removing the shieldnu successfully. I started getting very upset and stressed that I couldn't nurse her naturally without silicone getting in the way. I wanted to blame myself for not trying hard enough.  I looked all over for advise and was lost until I came here. What really got me to stop beating myself up about it all was reading this thread. I realized it's good news is that at least once, if not a few times a day, she takes the nipple for a minute or so. And it made me realize that her mouth will get bigger and hopefully the bubble palate will not be as big of a deal in a few months.


 I really appreciate all of the positive experiences you women have had weaning and I am relieved that it's not now or never and that someday we can nurse naturally. I think we will find our time if I keep offering gently and don't push her too much. Thanks again and I'll update with positive news when we achieve success!

mauifarrier 09-24-2011 06:09 PM

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.

~adorkable~ 09-28-2011 07:50 PM

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.

Erin77 10-02-2011 12:10 AM

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.

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