Hi, I'm a first time mom and new to this forum. Edit: just noticed I spelled "wean" wrong in title. Oh well :-p
Without getting into the details, I was given a nipple shield in the hospital after my son was born at 37 weeks. There were no complications, but his mouth was on the small side and I was told by the hospital LC that his sucking was "disorganized." I was also told I had somewhat flat nipples, which I now know I don't. They're small, but not flat. I resisted the nipple shield at first, but it was either that or I was told he would need to be given formula. I was also (after 2 days) given use of a pump to provide a small cup of my expressed colostrum. Overall, I had a terrible experience with the hospital LCs as I felt pressured, rushed, and guilty for not providing DS with more food. This is when our nipple shield journey began.
At least ds did take to the nipple shield as EBFing, especially in the beginning, was very important to me. The problem is weaning off. I hate the things. Feedings take forever, they're messy, I'm embarrassed to BF in public, they fall off in the middle of the night, they're just...grrr! DS is currently 12 weeks old, great weight, alert, etc.
I saw another LC who told me to stick my finger in his mouth, as far back as he'll let me, to help him learn to better suck. She felt confident that one day it'll just click and he'll take to the breast without the shield, but this hasn't happened yet. When I offer the shield-free breast to him, he usually screams and cries in complete anguish until I relent and put the shield back on. I usually give in rather quickly as I hate to see him cry and do not want him to associate my breast with frustration. To complicate matters, dh now gives him a bottle of pumped milk from time to time (a few times a week) as he'll need to take them when I go back to work in a few weeks and I didn't want him to resist. I actually worried for nothing because he seems to LOVE the ease of the bottle and will sometimes seem to get mad at my breast, shield or no shield, during the next feeding after he's had one. I refuse to give into THAT though, and with patience, he returns to the breast.
A few weeks ago, I thought we made a breakthrough because instead of screaming, he actually squealed and smiled with delight when I offered my shield-free breast. We "played" for a bit as I expressed the milk directly into his mouth. He sucked momentarily (I sandwiched using the technique demonstrated by LC) but he gave up quickly. His latch seems okay, he just won't suck for more than a few seconds. This is where we're at now. He usually feeds from the shield, with me sometimes trying to offer without. Depending on his mood, he'll play (lick off some milk, smile, gurgle and coo) or scream and cry (he's most receptive during side-lying position in bed). He still doesn't ever suck for more than a few seconds. I was really hoping he'd be off the shield before I go back to work mid-May, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I truly love BFing my baby but these shields make me feel inadequate and insecure. Plus, I dream of the ease of just sticking my boob in his mouth wherever we are and not having to juggle a NS every time he feeds :-(
Is it okay to let him cry longer without the shield to sort of force him into going without (if that's even possible) or do I continue putting it back on when he shows signs of frustration? I feel like we're getting nowhere with this. I've tried taking it off in the beginning, middle, end of feedings, when switching breasts, in the bath, skin to skin, after sucking my finger first, after pumping to get my nipples longer, I feel like I've tried it all! I really want to wean him off!