Re: desparate - should I try nipple shields?
The first thing I want to say is that if you don't want to stop, DON'T STOP. My first nursing experience was similar to yours: I had severe pain and extremely deep cracks for 5 months (yes, MONTHS), and I had to do a lot of pumping and supplementing in order to get my baby on track with weight gain. But I didn't quit and I have NEVER regretted that. Once my nipples healed up, I was able to start enjoying nursing, and I actually went on to nurse that baby for 3 years, which was 2 years past my initial goal.
The only person whose opinion matters when it comes to nursing is YOURS. Well, yours and your baby's.
2 months is still very young and very small. You know how you hear people say "Oh, everything gets better at 6 weeks?" Well, for some of us that is so much BS. Some of us have to wait longer than 6 weeks. Usually not all the way out to 22 weeks, like I did! If your pain is due to latch problems, then time is going to help and ultimately is likely to fix the problem completely. Bigger baby = bigger mouth = better latch.
I do think using a shield might be useful to you, with some caveats. The worst problem with shields is that they can decrease stimulation to and milk removal from the breast by imposing a barrier between baby's mouth and your breast. They can also make feedings take longer, again due to reduced stimulation/suction from the baby. But if you are already supplementing with pumped milk, and in the habit of combining pumping with nursing, then I think you're okay to use the shield. If you nurse with the shield, just throw a pumping session in after you nurse, to make up for whatever the baby didn't give you. If you want a more precise equilibrium between what baby takes at the breast and what you need to pump in order to make up for lost stimulation, then you might want to consider renting a professional baby scale and doing weigh-feed-weigh measurements. IDK, for a lot of people that's a step too far in the crazy direction!
What sort of pump do you have? Many pump issues can be solved by going up to a hospital-grade rental pump with correctly sized shields. If you already have one of those and are still finding pumping challenging, let us know exactly what's going on- how often you pump, when you pump, how pumping feels, etc.- and we'll try to help you troubleshoot.
Finally, I totally understand the "happier mama, happier baby" side of the parenting equation. But believe me, your child will NOT remember this stressful interval in her life. My 7 year old doesn't remember me shrieking in pain when she latched on. Not even a little. But she does- vaguely- remember being 3 and having "pupple". And I can look back on the period of nursing her as one of the happiest in my life, despite the initial challenges.
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"