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  • Nipple Shield

    I need some help getting my daughter to stop needing the nipple shield. When she was born, I couldn't get her to nurse and didn't know what to do. I wish now in hindsight (oh hindsight and your 20/20!) that I had contacted my local LLL before going to a lactation consultant from the hospital because I think the outcome may have been very different, but I'm working on letting the woulda, coulda, shoulda's go and just accept that it is what it is.

    Anyway, I went to a lactation consultant and she had me start using a nipple shield for 2 reasons, my daughter's mouth was very small and my breasts very large, and my nipples were flat. I also had to use a nursing supplementer for a bit to make sure she was getting the milk she needed because she was losing too much weight (used pumped breast milk in the supplementer which was good). We got her to stop using the supplementer many weeks ago, which is good, but now I can't get her to stop using the nipple shield.

    I try and put my bare nipple in at first and she gets upset and cries and won't nurse unless I put on the shield. Sometimes I just put on the shield and wait until everything is flowing well and then try my bare nipple and she still cries and refuses to nurse until I put the shield back on. I'm worried that she's not getting enough and I really don't like the fact that there's a silicone barrier between us.

    I'm happy that she's nursing and that she seems to be gaining weight and is happy, but really want to get her off the shield. I've posted this question on a Mama website I joined and so many of the people said things like "Just stop using it and she'll figure it out, even if she cries and cries. I did that with my baby and she cried and didn't eat for a couple days, but figured it out eventually." I just don't feel like that is feeding with love to starve them and make them upset.

    Anyway, any advice would be appreciated. What I'm doing right now is just continuing to try every feeding and as soon as she gets upset, I put the shield back on. I hope eventually the persistence will pay off, but I'm wondering if anyone else has any other advice. Oh, and I am in touch with my local LLL now and they have told me my latch is good and to just keep doing what I've been doing. I guess I'm also just wanting to feel like I'm not alone. Has anyone else had an issue like this?

    Rachel

  • #2
    I can't help a lot with weaning from the shield, as we were never able to! I tried everything I could find, and nothing worked, ds would not nurse without it, so I finally stopped trying to take it away. Ds was growing fine and getting enough milk, so I just stopped worrying. He is now 19 months old and still nursing (mostly with the shield, but will occasionally nurse without it). I've taken a lot of heat for using the shield, including some from LCs, doctors and well meaning friends who told me every chance they could that I needed to stop using the shield or I would have supply problems. I did a lot of research and found the studies that showed that shields caused supply issues all used women who had established a supply before using the shield. I couldn't find anything that could really show that women who begin the nursing relationship with the shield would have problems, and in my personal experience, and a few friends I've made in similar situations, we have not had any supply issues. ds's ped told me in her experience also women who used the shield from the get go had no problems.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't continue to try weaning from the shield if you want to, it is definately easier and more convenient to not have to cart it around everywhere and wash it a bazillion times a day. I guess I just wanted you to know you're not alone, and also to just let you know that if you can't stop using the shield it doesn't mean you have to stop nursing.

    Sorry this turned into a bit of a rant- I just get a little emotional thinking about all the people who told me I wouldn't be able to continue nursing if we didn't wean from the shield, and I get sad for women I have met who quit nursing because they were told the same thing.
    Last edited by Megan; 04-15-2008, 04:21 PM.

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    • #3
      I needed to use a shield with my daughter for the first week to two after she was born. We had the same issues: small mouth, big breasts, and flat nipples. I just kept trying without the shield and eventually she stopped needing it.

      As far as worrying that your DD isn't getting enough, does your hospital/doctor's office allow you to use their scales? I found it helpful to do the weigh, feed, weigh routine a few times to ensure that my daughter was getting enough milk in the beginning.

      I guess that didn't help much. But I just wanted to say that you're not alone.

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      • #4
        My son was born w/a cleft lip, and we had to use a shield. Like you, I read about the "dangers," was encouraged to wean him from it, etc, and I worried A LOT about it. I took him to be weighed frequently to be sure he was getting enough; he always was. Finally at about 6 mos, I found some peace about it. I looked at the challenges we'd faced and actually grew to be thankful for the shield...we could not have nursed w/out it and it did not cause any problems, aside from inconvenience. I had 4 shields so I could keep them clean an sanitized more easily. But NIP was really uncomfortable for me, b/c I was exposed trying to put the shield on...so I did a lot of nursing in the car Not a big deal.

        Anyway, eventually ds learned to nurse w/out it. We'd start w/it, then remove it mid-way thru the session. If he latched back on w/out it, great! If not, no biggie, I'd just put it back on. One day he just didn't need it anymore...probably around 9 or 10 mos.

        My best advice is try not to worry about it - though I know it's not always easy.

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        • #5
          Here are some ideas that have worked for other mothers:
          * increase in skin-to-skin contact between nursing can give both you and your babe a sense of enjoyment, better bonding, and decreased pressure to perform. I sometimes tell moms if they can to go to bed with baby for 24 hours- with no close on umlimited access to the breast
          * Warm baths taken together can help achieve a state of relaxation that
          may encourage your baby to latch on at the breast without the nipple shield
          * Sleepy babies are less resistant to the change from shield to breast; so latch the baby on during early morning, naptime, or nighttime nursings
          * Wear your baby in a carrier without your shirt on letting the baby get used to the feel of you skin and associate comforting, positive feelings
          * Many infants are more willing to accept the change from nipple shield to breast after the initial milk ejection reflex (let-down) and a pause in the suck pattern occurs. Gently slipping the shield off the breast and encouraging your baby to latch on to the breast is often what they need to successfully make the transition back to the breast. Other babies need a partial feeding at one breast before they might be willing to attempt to breastfeed at the other breast without the shield. Following your babies cues will help you to know when to attempt removal of the nipple shield.
          * Attempt breastfeeding without the shield in place at every feeding. Whether this is done at the beginning, middle, or end of the feeding will depend on you and your baby. These attempts are learning opportunities for the baby, not intended to pressure you or your baby perform.

          If your baby will not latch on to the breast without the nipple shield, you can check to be sure the babe is positioned correctly:

          * The nose and chin are in contact with the breast.
          * Both the top and bottom lip are fully flanged outward.
          * The baby's cheeks are full and rounded; dimpling of the infant's cheeks during sucking can mean there is too much unfilled space inside his mouth.
          * You experiences no pain during feeding.
          * The baby is audibly and visibly swallowing.
          * Your nipple is elongated and rounded when the infant comes off the breast.

          Please surround yourself with support. Stress levels are elevated during this time and many mothers have weaned from breastfeeding completely when faced with the additional challenges of feedings that do not go as anticipated.

          During the process of weaning from the nipple shield, stay in close contact with your health care provider in order to monitor weight gain. Check for adequate wet and soiled diapers, your nipple discomfort and milk supply.

          Good luck, I was able to wean my first off a nipple-shield when she was 9 weeks old- it was such a liberating experience.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you to everyone for your responses! It's nice to know that if I can't get her weaned that others have had so much success with continuing to nurse. I am very committed to nursing her as long as she wants to so this will need to work for years! I am doing a lot of what is suggested already, so it's good to know I'm on the right track. I will keep on it, but do it calmly & with love & try to not be stressed about it.

            On a completely OT subject, am I the only one who's getting really good @ one handed typing because of nursing? Hee!

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            • #7
              I wish I was good at one handed typing. DS is 18 mos and still sleeps on me for his naps - wakes up if I put him down - so I do lots of one handed typing, but I'm so slow at it and my hand cramps up. You'd think I'd be great at it after all this time.

              Glad you got some reassurance re: the shield.

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              • #8
                Bikil- glad you are feeling reassured. Good luck, and know that you ARE doing everything you can for your LO and we're all here for you if you have any more questions or if you need support!


                Originally posted by havecompassion View Post
                DS is 18 mos and still sleeps on me for his naps - wakes up if I put him down - so I do lots of one handed typing, but I'm so slow at it and my hand cramps up. You'd think I'd be great at it after all this time.
                Same here- a year and a half of one handed typing you'd think I'd be so much faster, but no, it takes forever to type one post! Here's my secret that I just discovered...ds sleeps on my lap on a pillow, I scoot the desk chair as close as I can to the desk and once he's asleep I pull the keyboard onto the pillow so I can use both hands. Awkward, but it works.

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                • #9
                  Okay, this is weird. I would try every feeding with my bare nipple & every time she would cry so I would put the shield on. I wasn't doing it with any desperation or ill will, but like was said above. as a learning experience. So, earlier today, completely out of the blue, she just started sucking without the shield and I haven't used it since! We've had about 4 feedings now without the shield! I don't understand it, but WOW I'll take it!

                  Thanks again to everyone here! You made me feel supported and not bad for having to use the shield. Even if she goes back to it here and there, we've made great progress! Thank you!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bikil View Post
                    Okay, this is weird. I would try every feeding with my bare nipple & every time she would cry so I would put the shield on. I wasn't doing it with any desperation or ill will, but like was said above. as a learning experience. So, earlier today, completely out of the blue, she just started sucking without the shield and I haven't used it since! We've had about 4 feedings now without the shield! I don't understand it, but WOW I'll take it!

                    Thanks again to everyone here! You made me feel supported and not bad for having to use the shield. Even if she goes back to it here and there, we've made great progress! Thank you!
                    Wow!! Congratulations, perhaps you feeling so much more relaxed about the situation made her feel more secure, so she's comfortable without it now?

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                    • #11
                      Bikil,

                      So glad to hear that you are able to nurse without the shirld. I remember it being such a freeing moment with my first when I could finally throw away the shield!

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