trouble latching/nipple shield - Mothering Forums
Breastfeeding Challenges > trouble latching/nipple shield
Katherine73's Avatar Katherine73 09:45 PM 06-23-2012

My son is 2 weeks old. We had a very rough start breastfeeding. The short version is 39 hours of labor-->he was posterior-->huge bruise on his head--->developed jaundice-->my milk took 5 days to come in-->had to supplement with formula-->he had lots of problems latching from the beginning due to the jaundice.


We are home now - thankfully my milk came in with a vengeance and he's had only my milk since he was 6 days old. I am using a nipple shield that they gave me at the hospital. It helps him latch but it's SO hard to get into place in certain positions, such as cradle hold or laying down. I've been nursing a lot in football hold with the Boppy. At this point he will take my right breast without the shield because the nipple is more "out there", but he won't do it reliably. He won't take my left breast without it. He won't feed laying down reliably which makes nights really tiring. When I try to latch him without the shield he spits my nipple out repeatedly. After repeated tries he actually gets angry and throws a small tantrum. When this happens I put the shield back on.


I've been to kellymom and seen her suggestions about getting off the shield. At this point I think I just need encouragement that it IS possible. I feel very cooped up because I don't have enough confidence to nurse in public, and he's not reliably nursing without the shield. I don't know how I would juggle him, a cover and the shield all at once (I would like to use a cover). Will I have to nurse with a Boppy forever? Will we get better at this? Is he going to "get it" and nurse without the shield?

Mosaic's Avatar Mosaic 08:18 AM 06-25-2012
Yes, you will both get better at it! I used a nipple shield with both of my children and ended up having long, happy nursing relationships without the shield!! DD2 even has feeding difficulties where we used LOTS of bottles and nipple shields as part of her therapy; even she managed to ditch the shield withing the first six months, and she's still nursing now at 26mo.

At this point, I would keep doing what you're doing and maybe not stress about removing the shield if it seems like he needs it. He's so young and is still getting the hang of it himself. But when you feel that you're both ready, do try to start a feeding without it, or take it away halfway through, or trying different positions/tricks/holds at different times of the day... my first would latch on without the nipple shield when she was half-asleep!

I've NIPed with the shield, and I agree with you that it's not fun. It's awkward and can be messy and exposing. I would nurse my DD and then immediately run out to Target or something for a sanity break, making it back home in time to nurse again. smile.gif

Hang in there... you're doing great!
emilysmama's Avatar emilysmama 12:57 PM 06-29-2012

Hang in there, and don't stress about the nipple shield.


Are you anxious about being on the nipple shield forever?  Don't worry about the advice for getting off the nipple shield for the time being.  You might not even need that kind of advice, because even that might turn out easy to do.  Although it is true that some babies need to be gradually weaned from the nipple shield, that is not true for all babies.  For example, one day, I just took away the nipple shield from my daughter, and she was just fine without it.


Are you worried that you will be stuck with the nipple shield forever because your daughter won't know how to nurse any other way?  My dd used the nipple shield for three months, which is way longer than most babies, but even  she continued to be a strong nurser post-nipple-shield until she was three years old. 


I couldn't get the lying-down position to work until my dd was bigger in size.  For a little while, not forever, I had to get up and sit upright in order to nurse at night.  In fact, in all of the three years that my dd nursed, I couldn't figure out any of the different nursing positions, except the cross-cradle position. So I think that it's great that you've got a couple nursing positions that worked for you.  But no, you won't need a boppy forever.  Right now, with your baby so little, it just seems like it, but soon you'll be boppiless and a lot more mobile.

hildare's Avatar hildare 01:07 PM 06-29-2012

i used a shield with both my kids for the first few weeks/month.  it can really help you get through a rough start-up and i wouldn't worry about it for a little while at least.  it can help pull your nipple out and help your child learn to latch properly, and it won't kill your supply if you eventually stop using it. 

i read the stuff online about it too, and after experiencing such relief when i was able to actually nurse the baby, it sent me into panic mode all over again for no reason.  it will be fine to nurse with the shield.  i nursed dd for 18 mos and still nursing my n00b, so from my experience, it saved our breastfeeding relationship. 

it will get better, it all will get better.  if you can make it the first month or so, it's so much easier.  nursing lying down and in public. 

Katherine73's Avatar Katherine73 05:44 PM 06-30-2012

Thanks for the encouragement.


The weird thing is, sometimes he will nurse just fine without the shield. However it seems he has the most trouble nursing at night. I use the shield at night a lot because he will try to latch and then it's like his mouth just collapses around my nipple, he doesn't get a good latch, and he pulls away and gets frustrated. So it's about 50/50 right now. Any guesses as to why he does this?? It seems like this is two steps forward, one step back.


It's like he forgets how to nurse sometimes!


He is 3 weeks old tomorrow - already he has some discernible patterns so we do try to go places when we know he will sleep. I haven't had to NIP yet. 

1stTimeMama4-4-10's Avatar 1stTimeMama4-4-10 09:33 PM 07-01-2012

It looks like I'm the only alarmist here.  I had the same experience with DD.  She was born with a severe tongue tie and I had flat nipples.  The LC's at the hospital sent me home with nipple shields (that I later learned were the wrong size) and I knew in my heart that if I didn't get DD nursing without them that it would ruin our nursing relationship for all the reasons that you listed above, and several more - mostly that because she didn't get enough milk with the stupid nipple shield that she was always hungry. And I'm not exaggerating.  She was hungry before and after nursing and I could not fix it. I was also a walking balloon of emotions in those first two weeks PP, and when she rejected my nipple without the shield it really crushed me.  I was so incredibly upset about the whole thing that I seriously considered just giving up and either pumping exclusively or switching to formula.  I'm so glad we didn't have to do that.


Instead, we got a fantastic amazing lactation consultant (head and shoulders above the ones at the hospital) who essentially had me swaddle DD VERY tightly, put her in a football hold, point my nipple straight up in the air and bring baby to the nipple without the shield.  It took 2-3 tries, and if she refused the nipple or freaked out, I would just calm her (and myself down) and try again when we were both calm. She took the nipple without the shield for the first time ever the 3rd or 4th time, and we never looked back.  DD was about 2 weeks at that point and I had all but despaired that our nursing relationship would be forever ruined by the stupid nipple shield that I don't think I needed in the first place.


Sooooo - to answer your questions, yes it is definitely possible to get off the nipple shield. DD is now 26 months and nurses between 4-10x per day even though I am 8 months pregnant and my milk dried up many months ago.  It is a profoundly special relationship that we both cherish.  In retrospect, I probably would have been fine waiting a bit longer to get off the nipple shield, but I don't regret doing it when I did.  It made things 100x easier without it and most importantly, it gave me confidence that I could do this.  


You are doing the right thing by just using the shield for now because nursing is about a lot more than just getting milk.  However, nursing IS about food too, so be careful with supply issues.  I would recommend trying to wean off the shield sooner rather than later, but please don't let it interfere with your breastfeeding relationship as much as it did with mine - most of the stuff I went through was unnecessary and caused by my own anxiety.


Good luck!

LorienEllen's Avatar LorienEllen 02:05 PM 07-03-2012

Hang in there!  My daughter is almost 4 months and I have a love/hate relationship with the nipple shield.  I am now able to get her to take the nipple sometimes but she has an awful latch - I actually just asked about it here.  We are able to side-lie at night and do other holds besides football (though that has always been the easiest) so I think it just takes some practice.  I don't have a lot of helpful advice because clearly I haven't been able to get her to nurse all the time without the shield, but I know it IS possible.