Help weaning from nipple shield?

Alison - posted on 11/17/2008 ( 20 moms have responded )

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Stats: son was born 9/30 by un-planned c-section. 5 hours later, I finally meet him but no one helps me nurse him (no guidance from the nurses). I try on my own, but am not sure if it's "working." On the day we're dismissed, two nurses are more hands-on, helping me to get him latched for the first time. I can't reproduce it myself, though, and go home resigned to pumping/bottle-feeding. He develops jaundice and we end up feeding him formula for a week or so to make sure he's over it. I start attending a local BF resource center, and my mom recommends a nipple shield. I intend to transition him off of it, but every time I offer him "just" the breast, he freaks out (crying and writhing away). Any advice or support is gladly welcome - I'm just feeling like I'm a failure for not feeding him the "right way."

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Laura - posted on 11/18/2008

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Hi Alison - You are trying so hard and still breastfeeding your baby so please don't feel like you are a failure. I had to use nipple shields with my son so I know it can be fustrating but regardless of whether he is latching on you or the sheild, YOU are feeding and growing your baby and that is what breastfeeding is all about.



As for weaning him off the sheild, the best advise I got was to relax and have patience. My birth doula told me that as long as the shield does not cause a supply issue, some mums use them for up to an entire year without a problem. Of course using the sheilds requires it's own logistical efforts so that I just kept offereing my son the breast without the sheild at different times during each daytime feeding. Sometimes he would freak out at the begining of the feeding but then latch on when I switched sides and he was not so hungry. Eventually when he was around 2 months old, one day he latched on at the begining of a feeding and I think he realized that he could actually get the milk faster without the sheild. From that point it took about 7-10 days of going back and forth - using it one feeding but not another. A few times he would actually freak out when I didn't use it and then freak out more when I put it on so I'd have to settle him down and then just try again. One good thing about weaning taking a few days is that it gives your nipples a chance to adjust slowly because you may have soreness during the weaning process.



I know that might sound like a lot of work, but the effort and commitment you have already made proves that you can do it. Pleae feel free to send me a message directly at any time. Best wishes to you and your little guy.

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Alison - posted on 11/21/2008

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Well, ladies, I have great news to share! On Thursday afternoon, my son (soon to be two months old) learned to latch and has been breast-feeding without the shield since then!!! Thank you, everyone, for your comments/suggestions/advice and love - you gave me the strength and confidence to keep going, and it is SO worth it :-D

Ashley - posted on 11/21/2008

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I totally understand where your coming from, my son, now almost 6 months, was an unplanned c-section, got jaundice in the hospital because of poor latching, I thought I had flat nipples which i'm not so sure about anymore, anyway the last day at the hospital the lactation consultant helped me then suggested a shield which i ended up having to use exclusively because he refused to eat straight from the tap, well at his 4 month appointment my doctor mentioned how he was on the lower end of the weight scale and suggested I wean him from the shield, easier said then done, i had tried before to go bare but he wanted none of it, so finally at four months I decided it was time to try again. at first he was resistant, but then i tried again when he was really tired and couldn't remember to fuss about it, after about a week i was almost completely free of the shield, now at 6 months he never uses it, so i guess my advice is two fold, when he's ready he'll switch and try starting out when he's really tired it helps.

I felt like i was failing too because i had to use a shield but be encouraged there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Alison - posted on 11/21/2008

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Ahhh! I was so relieved to see these posts! I'm a first time mom and have been feeding my three week old daughter with a nipple shield since the hospital. We are currently dealing with the weaning issue as well. Just this week at the advice of a lactation consultant, I tried dropping it cold turkey and that was a nightmare! After two hours of her crying (and me too) I ended up feeding her with a syringe while she sucked on my pinky! Ridiculous! I found such comfort in reading all of your suggestions and encouragement- thank you! I plan to try it all until we find what works for us. (And good luck Alison...I'm thinkng about you!)

Leigh Ann - posted on 11/19/2008

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Someone may have already said this, but try starting out with the shield and then switch to just the nipple if you can. That way your nipple is pulled out and he may not notice as much of a difference. I used shields with my twin girls, and then one day I just tried it without and we never looked back! Keep trying. One day you will offer just the breast and he will just take it!

Adriane - posted on 11/19/2008

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I used a shield for one month with my son because he wasn't latching properly. To ween him, I would get him sucking on his pacifier really well while laying in a feeding position. I would then take the pacy out and put him to my breast. He had a good sucking motion going so he would latch right away. I would do this just one or two times a day at first and then added more. It took him less than a week to get off the shield completely. And breastfeeding is sooo much easier without messing with a shield.

Gina - posted on 11/18/2008

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my daughter was born 8/23, premature and needed a nipple sheild until she was about a month and a half. your son may prefer the sheild like she did because you have already introduced the bottle. the way i weaned her off was to use the sheild for half of the feedings. stay calm and be patient, they can sense your stress. after you use it half and half for a few days or a week. try every other feeding without it- or the feedings he usually does best at- the hungriest, the happiest, etc. you're not a failure at all, breastfeeding takes time and he's still getting your milk, which is the most impt goal here. good luck and i hope this helped some! -g

Nichole - posted on 11/18/2008

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I couldn't feed my daughter right away due to a c-section as well. I know how badly it feels! Just keep it up. Be consistent. Don't get discouraged. He will slowly make the change. Just be patient with him. It is so frustrating but he will pick up on your frustration so try to stay positive!

Alison - posted on 11/18/2008

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You all are the best! Corynn, it sounds like we had almost identical situations, and I am more convinced than ever that he *will* wean from the nipple shield and that someday, I won't have to drag that little piece of silicone with me everywhere I go!

Rachel - posted on 11/18/2008

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I had to use the nipple shield with my son for quite awhile... He wouldnt latch on due to flat nipples. It was very frustrating because I had alot of people making me feel bad about not "directly" feeding my son. Around 3 or 4 months I was sooo sick of using the shield and took it off just to see what he would do. He ate perfectly fine without it and we havent looked back. My suggestion is to do what is comfortable for you and your son. When he is ready to transition it will be no problem :) My son is now 7 months old and still happily breastfeeding. Just remember either way you are giving your son the best!!

Corynn - posted on 11/18/2008

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I had a little girl in June by c-section and started using a nipple shield in the hospital. It did not inhibit my milk flow, but, like you, I felt like I wasn't doing it the right way. Also, the shield did not always stay on when she would go for the breast, especially if she turned her head b/c she was crying due to waking up hungry. So she would cry while I tried to get it back on the right way in the dark. Not fun!

When she was almost 6 weeks old, I went back to the lactation consultant who helped me get her latched on. I had tried to wean her off the shield on my own with no luck, but once I went to the lactation consultant, it worked much better. With the shield, the baby doesn't have to take as much of the breast into the mouth, so the suck and positioning are a little bit different. Once I knew how to position her and my breast so that she could actually eat well, the screaming and writhing stopped and she started eating. Find someone who can make sure you are positioning him and your breast the right way, and it will go much more smoothly!

Again, there is nothing wrong with using a nipple shield, but I know it can make the whole feeding process seem much more complicated than it has to be! The first few days I still used it at night when she wasn't as awake, but after a few days her mouth automatically knew what to do and we dropped it during the night feedings as well. Just don't stress out about it; it will happen! Good luck weaning him off of it!

[deleted account]

My son was slightly tongue tied which prevented us from latching on. The lactation nurse gave us a nipple shield and even with that we used a syringe with a catheter full of formula to get him to latch on for the first few weeks. It was quite an ordeal that included Dad just to nurse. We got rid of the formula syringe, but the nipple sheild has stuck. We have not had any supply issues and my baby boy is nice and plump. I never made the effort to go away from the nipple sheild. I was hesitant to feed in public places because of it, but have managed when I needed to. You and your baby will figure out what is right for you.

Alison - posted on 11/18/2008

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Laura - thank you so much! Your support and advice have brought me so much comfort today :-) You helped me renew my confidence that he and I can do this, and that no arbitrary deadline will ever help him - we'll figure it out on his own time, when he's ready to do it. I was hoping that he'd transition before we fly to FL (in a week), but you know what? I'm not worried - we'll be fine :-)

Beth - posted on 11/18/2008

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That sheild was a mixed blessing for me too. I got to hold my baby girl right away after birth & tried to feed her within an hour. But she wouldn't latch. We tried all day and finially on of the nurses suggested the sheild. My baby latched right on to that. So at least I could BF then, so I was happy, but eventually it did get to be a big pain. I just kept ofering her me without the sheild & she would normally freak out and start crying & won't calm down unless I put the sheild back on. I can't say exactly what worked, but after one month I said that's it, we're going gold turkey. I knew she could latch on without it, but that she just didn't want to. It's weird, but actually we used a pacifier so that she was sucking something good then made a quick switch to my breast and she got it. I think it helped to have her eat some first with the sheild so she isn't really hungry and won't get quite as upset.

Stick with it, your baby will figure it out eventually! You are doing awesome!! Even if you are using the sheild you are still breastfeeding and that's what really counts. Great job!!

Alison - posted on 11/18/2008

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Thank you all SO much for your support and advice - you all make me feel normal :)

Jennifer - posted on 11/17/2008

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I had a hard time also at first. But now my son is 16 months and we are still nursing - just hang in there. I was given shields at first as well - I had "short" nipples - amazing what you learn when you have a baby! I had the same problem, jaundice, he had a hard time latching on without the shield. After about 6 weeks, I started getting him going with the shield for a couple minutes until the milk flow was stronger, then I would quickly and gently break his suction with my pinky finger in the corner of his mouth and take the shield off. At that point he was usually so hungry he would go back to my breast without issue. It took a few days but he figured it out and obviously everything went fine. Just stick with it!! Don't give up because it is the most special thing in the world :)

Catherine - posted on 11/17/2008

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I had a very difficult time getting my daughter to take just my breast, so the first night home after much frustration I started using the nipple shield. She cried when I tried to get her to latch on and so did I. I did pump and use the shied and at about 2 months, i forgot to take it with me while we were out and tried w/o it and she finally latched on. It was not easy, but I gradually started feeding her w/o it and it worked. It is so easy now! But it took a while. I think that the pumping helped make my nipples bigger and easier for her to latch on to. Believe me, I felt like I was doing something wrong and did not understand why it was so hard for me when millions of other women have no trouble at all. Sometimes it just takes longer to get the hang of it. Keep trying and Im sure he will figure it out. Good luck!

[deleted account]

I had twin boys pre-term by c-section. One of them was breastfeeding well within the first 5 days of birth. I had to work with the other for about 4 weeks. He would not latch on at all. I finally got him to latch with a nipple shield. In order to get him to just the breast I would start each nursing with the shield and then once he was doing good and calm I would unlatch, slide off the shield and try to put him back on the bare breast. Not every time worked, but eventually we got it and it's like second nature now. Stick with it and if you end up having to use the shield every time - no worries. There is no "RIGHT" way - only the way that works for you!!!

Jaclyn - posted on 11/17/2008

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I had to use a nipple shield at first because my left nipple was flat. I just decided one day to make him feed without it. It was a difficult day but I stuck with it and now he's able to feed without it...haven't used it in weeks. I find that if I smoosh my breast with one hand so it's more pointed, it's easier for him to latch on.



He's now 2 months and breastfeeding has become so easy. It will get better.

Crystal - posted on 11/17/2008

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There is no wrong way to feed your son. I think that trying to feed him by breast everytime you feed him and if that doesnt work than give him the pumped milk in the bottle. I have a friend that had issues in the begining with breastfeeding and just pumped all of her milk. She is so lucky now. All she has to do is pump 4-5 times a day and has tons of milk for her son. It makes me wish I would have done it that way. Sometime there are unforseen blessing in times when we least expect it.

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