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Thread: Nipple Shield and Pacifier

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Arlington, TX

    Default Nipple Shield and Pacifier

    I am unable to use my own nipples to breastfeed. They are too short and he cant latch on correctly or for very long. I use a nipple shield the lactation nurse gave me in the hospital and it seems to work well. He has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, and he is gaining weight. I have overly full breast on a daily basis and never a shortage of milk. I pump manually or with my pump every 2 or 3 days. However, my son likes to use me as his pacifier, and with the shield it starts to hurt extremely bad. I have been looking into maybe buying in a "The First Years" gumdrop pacifier, but I have heard that giving a newborn a pacifier before 4-6 weeks can cause nipple confusion. My son is 2 1/2 weeks old, and he doesn't use my nipples, only the shield so does the same rules apply? Would it be safe to use a pacifier to help sooth him while I shower, cook, clean, etc? Should I just keep letting him use me as his pacifier? Also my son likes to eat EVERY hour or so since the hospital made me feed him every hour. Im trying to get him on a 2 or 3 hour schedule for eating and was wondering if this is a good or bad idea? Im a first time mom and have NO idea what Im doing so any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Shield and Pacifier

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!

    It's wonderful that you're nursing, even though you have to use the shield right now. Hopefully the shield will be a temporary measure. Babies don't NIPPLEfeed, they BREASTfeed. What that means is that when a baby is properly latched on, the baby is sucking mostly on the elastic, resilient tissue of the areola/breast, rather than on the delicate nipple. When a baby is latched on properly, the nipple sits on the back of the baby's tongue, almost down at the opening to the throat. So once your baby grows a bit and is able to get a deeper "bite" of breast, the length of your nipples shouldn't matter much.

    I strongly suggest that you go and see an independent lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. When a newborn baby has trouble latching, a good LC does a lot more than hand you a shield. The baby should be checked for tongue tie and you should get an intensive session during which you really work on the baby's latch, and during which the LC evaluates baby's ability to transfer milk.

    You are absolutely correct that it is not recommended that a mom use a pacifier at this point. Pacis can interfere with a baby's latch-on and suckling skills, and latching is already a problem for you,s o much so that you're using a shield. I think a paci is only likely to make baby's latch worse. The other reason you don't want to use a paci right now is that at only 2.5 weeks of age, your baby really needs lots of opportunities to nurse. Not nursing enough is probably the most common reason for a breastfed baby to not gain weight. A baby who is using a shield and isn't a great nurser actually needs MORE nursing opportunities than the average baby, not less, because shields can decrease milk transfer. And therefore, you also absolutely do NOT want a 2-3 hour "schedule". Schedules are the enemy of successful breastfeeding, because milk is produced on a supply = demand basis. Restrict demand, by spacing out baby's feedings to some artificial interval, and you will end up with decreased supply. So please, please, no schedules- unless you're going to feed the baby MORE often than he demands.

    I know this period in your life and your baby's life is super tough and probably not the rosy picture you had of your first few weeks with your new baby. But you can get through it, and trust me, it's worth it! We'll be here for you every step of the way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Nipple Shield and Pacifier

    Hi and congratulations on your new baby! I used nipple shields with my first baby. They can be a really great tool, because getting baby to latch and nurse on the breast is so important. But nipple shields are typically a temporary solution while latch difficulties are worked on. In my case I was told I had "flat" nipples. Later I discovered much of the problem was due to having edema from iv fluids and engorgement, which made my breasts very hard and difficult for baby to latch onto, both of which are (or should be) temporary conditions. It concerns me that you believe you are unable to use your own nipples to nurse. First off, you are using your own nipples! If you are putting the shields on correctly, they fit over the nipple and areola, so that baby is latching on to you. The nipple shield is there to help facilitate a good latch, not as a replacement for your anatomy. Secondly, babies latch on all sizes and shapes of breasts and nipples just fine. Your nipples being 'short' should not make it impossible for your baby to latch. Keep using the shields by all means, but I also strongly suggest you start working on finding help or information on fixing the latch so you don't need them anymore.

    It sound to me as if you do know what you doing-baby is gaining well and getting what he needs from the place he was designed to get it-that pretty much covers it. These early weeks all a baby does is nurse and sleep pretty much, and all a mom can do is kind of hang on and go along for the ride. Mommal is right, frequent nursing as your baby is doing is normal at this age. It will get less frequent soon. But nursing-even for long periods-should not hurt. That is another reason to get help with the latch. You are doing so well, the last thing you need right now is nipple injury. Again, injury and pain would be caused by a shallow latch, or maybe by the shield rubbing on you, not the amount baby nurses.

    Mommal explained why paci's are a problem this early on. When you are experiencing nipple soreness you can try offering your pinky or knuckle, or try other comforting techniques like walking baby around, swaying, patting, etc. Or better yet, get someone else to comfort baby, so you can get a break altogether.

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