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Thread: Weaning off the Shield

  1. #1
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    Default Weaning off the Shield

    The LC was out of town the weekend Leonel was born, so my attending nurse helped me BF him about an hour after he was born. I remember her rubbing my nipple to get it to harden and trying a couple different positions I think (gosh it's all such a blur already!), but ultimately gave me a shield to use because he hadn't latched(flat nipples). Sure enough it worked. Didn't think twice about it until a day later a different nurse saw me using it and said to make sure I weaned him off it ASAP because it can cause supply issues...at which point I panicked and read up on their use and couldn't find a darn positive thing about them.

    Our ped said his wife used one for 4 months when his son ripped it off her and decided he was done with it, and when I did finally get to see the LC she said she would have waited longer to try without the shield but it's okay (he'd gained weight fine at the checks we had done). She said to just slip it off, try to get him to latch without it, etc.

    Well today he ended up latching and eating a whole meal without the shield! But this is rare. Very rare. Usually he'll lick around, nuzzle it, maybe close down on it but then look angry (!) and get upset and push away until that shield goes on. I don't want him to get too frustrated too often at the breast.

    So, how often should I be attempting to get him to latch without it? I had wanted to wait until we had gotten the hang of BF in general before teaching him something new, although I do my best to make sure his latch is decent on the shield ("fish lips") so the position of his mouth shouldn't be something new for him to learn.
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

  2. #2

    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    I wish they would outlaw those shields!! a well meaning nurse gave me one with my first baby because i also have flat nipples and she was having trouble latching. I thought not much of it but she was hooked immediately. I tried every trick in the book, all she would do was gag. I never successfully got her weaned. it dwindled my supply and I ended up having to supplement her starting at 4 mos. My second i was determined not to touch the shield but out of frustration at 3 am i caved one night and used it. Fortunately this baby was less of a shield snob and i successfully weaned him off it completely at 4 weeks. I am not touching it with this one! What helped me most was to nurse for about 30 seconds with it, so that it would draw my nipple out nicely, then remove it and try to relatch. best of luck!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    Thanks!

    So it does, in fact, decrease supply??? Is there a way to keep it up at all? How will I know if we have to supplement?

    I've tried slipping it off after he's sucked my nipple out a bit, and he did latch once that way (he was semi-sleeping and I think that helped). Today when he latched he was tired and fussy and kept knocking it off so I figured WTH and made a "sandwich" of my breast and that's how he took it. So I keep thinking there's *hope* he'll take it every time at some point.

    I know, I really really really wish she had never given it to me and we'd never used it in the first place!
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    What my3imps said was how I approached it. It took me over a month to work up the courage to do it. Very early on I would hand pump an extra 5 mins after DD was done to keep up supply. It deadens that sucking sensation on your breast that signals the need for milk production.
    Last edited by @llli*lidarose; May 30th, 2012 at 09:46 AM. Reason: Kindle fail

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    Shields are a useful tool when used appropriately, which is when a baby cannot latch/suckle properly without them. In that case, much better to use a shield than the only other option, which is to pump and give baby the expressed milk. In those cases, sheilds keep baby nursing at the breast when otherwise they would not be. Yes shields are overused terribly-often used as a short cut to latch or before "everything" else has been tried. Also they should only be given to moms by Lactation Consultants who can also make sure mom understands the potential supply issues and what to do about that, and who can follow up with mom.

    Weaning baby off the shield takes perseverance & patience but it certainly can be done. I suggest being proactive but not panicked about weaning off the shield, if that makes sense. Don't wait for baby to rip away the shield on his own but also don't think all is lost if you cannot get him off the shield in a couple of days. Your baby has shown he can nurse without them, so I have no doubt you will be able to wean off them. Meanwhile, if you have a pump, pumping will help counteract any supply issues that may otherwise occur. The major issue with shields and supply is that they (or the underlying problem that causes them to be used) prevents proper milk transfer. So both baby weight gain (measured by output and the usual or slightly more often than usual weight checks) and supply is something to be very on top of when using shields. The rule of thumb is for a mom to pump for about 10-15 minutes after every nursing session when the shield is used, but often that is too much for mom to handle and may be more than necessary. I suggest pump as much as you can while using the shield, but see waht your LC says. Also no need to supplement baby with the pumped milk unless baby is not getting enough from nursing! Just freeze what you pump. Shields do not always cause a supply issue that depends on many factors.

    Can your LC see you now, and give some hands on assistance? What have you tried as far as latch and positioning goes? Remember all the nursing basics-nurse very frequently, on cue and also offer as much as you like, try different positions, like football or side lying, try laid back positions and/or letting baby more or less “self latch,” try the breast sandwich technique, etc.
    Also instant reward techniques may help if baby is getting frustrated at the breast. See ideas here: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    Shields are a useful tool when used appropriately, which is when a baby cannot latch/suckle properly without them. In that case, much better to use a shield than the only other option, which is to pump and give baby the expressed milk. In those cases, sheilds keep baby nursing at the breast when otherwise they would not be. Yes shields are overused terribly-often used as a short cut to latch or before "everything" else has been tried. Also they should only be given to moms by Lactation Consultants who can also make sure mom understands the potential supply issues and what to do about that, and who can follow up with mom.

    Weaning baby off the shield takes perseverance & patience but it certainly can be done. I suggest being proactive but not panicked about weaning off the shield, if that makes sense. Don't wait for baby to rip away the shield on his own but also don't think all is lost if you cannot get him off the shield in a couple of days. Your baby has shown he can nurse without them, so I have no doubt you will be able to wean off them. Meanwhile, if you have a pump, pumping will help counteract any supply issues that may otherwise occur. The major issue with shields and supply is that they (or the underlying problem that causes them to be used) prevents proper milk transfer. So both baby weight gain (measured by output and the usual or slightly more often than usual weight checks) and supply is something to be very on top of when using shields. The rule of thumb is for a mom to pump for about 10-15 minutes after every nursing session when the shield is used, but often that is too much for mom to handle and may be more than necessary. I suggest pump as much as you can while using the shield, but see waht your LC says. Also no need to supplement baby with the pumped milk unless baby is not getting enough from nursing! Just freeze what you pump. Shields do not always cause a supply issue that depends on many factors.

    Can your LC see you now, and give some hands on assistance? What have you tried as far as latch and positioning goes? Remember all the nursing basics-nurse very frequently, on cue and also offer as much as you like, try different positions, like football or side lying, try laid back positions and/or letting baby more or less “self latch,” try the breast sandwich technique, etc.
    Also instant reward techniques may help if baby is getting frustrated at the breast. See ideas here: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/
    Yes, I understand "proactive but not panicky", and that's going to be my personal challenge! I get anxious about not using this thing anymore and I'm sure the anxiety gets translated to DS.

    The 2 times we've seen the LC (2 day check-up and then 2 days later), DS was sleeping and had no interest in nursing for an audience (we did skin-to-skin for a while too to wake him up). He had gained 5 oz in the 2 days between when we saw her. At his 2 week check-up he had gained over his birth weight; we went out of town and really since then I haven't thought to have him weighed. Plus...and this is terrible...I'm not a fan the LC nor the girl who's training under her at the moment. But I suppose for the best I should go again.

    I'll try to pump more after feedings; I had been just after the morning feed for my back-to-work freezer stash. I certainly feed on cue; we co-sleep so we side-position, mostly cradle hold during the day, he doesn't seem to be a fan of football hold and I haven't really done any reclining since that first time in the hospital. In order for him to even attempt to latch on just my nipple I need to sandwich, so when I try to get him to take it, that's what I do.
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    It sounds like babies weight gain is excellent, I assume that is all from nursing at the breast. So the concern is the possibility of supply issues from prolonged use. Remember this is only a possibility! Pump as you can but do not over-exhaust yourself.

    Your LC appts do not sound ideal. Babies will sleep when they will, of course. That is no one's fault. But LC's typically instruct mom to 'bring baby slightly hungry" to the appt. if at all possible. Also the appt should be about an hour and a half long if not longer. Usually these will prevent the issue of a too sleepy baby and thus an unproductive appt.

    Can you see a different LC? She may be great just not great for you. It is very important to be comfortable with and confident in your LC. Try to make sure you see an IBCLC or in any case someone with lots of experience/knowledge. You could also check into local LLL Groups/Leaders?

    You can do lots on your own, of course. Did you read the article posted above about shields? And the Help baby won’t nurse one? Lots of great ideas in both. Also I suggest trying laid back again, if for no reason except it is so comfortable. (it also promotes a more or less self attachment in baby so if baby is having difficulty ‘opening wide’ or ‘gaping” laid back positioning often eliminates the need to do that. Remember laid back simply means mom is reclined anywhere from just slightly past vertical (as in a chair or on a couch) to laid way back (such as in bed propped up with pillows) and baby can be in any position at all on you. If the breast sandwich works, great, keep doing that. You can do that while laid back or get baby latched in an upright position and then lay back. Basically, nurse in any position that is comfortable for both of you and latch baby however works. I really think you will do fine.
    http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf and http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; May 30th, 2012 at 08:58 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Weaning off the Shield

    Yes, those weights are from EBF.

    I've read those links, thank you! BN makes so much sense, I'll definitely be giving it a try. I just have to remember to not force him because really this is not an emergency (and it's not too late).

    The hospital only has that one LC. I've got our local LLL meeting on the calendar for this month. I'll make an appt to see the LC again and see what LLL has to offer, too.

    Thank you again for your help and encouragement!
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

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