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Thread: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Default Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    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!
    Last edited by @llli*korovamilkbar; April 29th, 2013 at 07:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    first off , right from the start let me say you are doing great! Your LO nurses, gained weight, and takes a bottle of expressed breastmilk from his daddy.
    Niplle shields are a useful tool but I agree with you. At this point you would rather not use them. Ok mamma this weaning from the nipple shield is doable. I would not stress over the baby taking a bottle in fact that skill can be used for your advantage.
    I think that if a baby is offered an unshielded nipple before distracted/frustrated by hunger he might be more willing to suck for comfort. For example if the baby has had a feeding from the bottle offer him your nipple afterwards. If he cries a bit I would not frett b/c he had a full feeding and the crying is from re-learning a skill he had mastered. he is not crying because he is hungry. See? so I would not let hunger be the force behind getting him to suck without the shield. I would feed the baby first and then use my naked nipple for comfort.
    DD#1 July 1986 VB
    DD#2 April 1988 c/sec
    DS#3 April 1990 VBAC
    DS#4 June 1993 VB
    and suprise!
    DD#5 April 2001 c/sec
    BTDT scars and stretchmarks,: wrinkles and grey hair

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,997

    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    This link covers nipple shields and techniques for weaning from them: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/wean-shield/

    I know this has to be extremely frustrating for you and baby! Just be calm, patient, and persistent.
    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!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*esthervegan View Post
    If he cries a bit I would not frett b/c he had a full feeding and the crying is from re-learning a skill he had mastered. he is not crying because he is hungry. See? so I would not let hunger be the force behind getting him to suck without the shield. I would feed the baby first and then use my naked nipple for comfort.
    Thank you, this makes sense. I've decided that I'm dedicating all day tomorrow to laying in bed with my son, skin to skin, to just focus on weaning. My gut tells me not to force anything. Yesterday, I let him cry for 10 minutes with the hope that he'd "give in" but we got nowhere. After an initial feeding he was more receptive, although still wouldn't suck. I felt horrible for letting him cry.

    If anyone has successfully weaned from NS after all this time I'd appreciate your stories of hope, because I'm losing mine. It gets to the point where I want to quit altogether, despite my long-term goal to go a full year. I just can't imagine a year of this.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    This link covers nipple shields and techniques for weaning from them: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/wean-shield/

    I know this has to be extremely frustrating for you and baby! Just be calm, patient, and persistent.
    Thank you mama. I did read the Kellymom article and it was very helpful. It seems that the common advice is patience and persistence, so I'm going to try to keep the faith. I would love to succeed so I can offer hope to other mamas.
    Last edited by @llli*korovamilkbar; April 30th, 2013 at 07:00 AM. Reason: OCPD :-)

  6. #6
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    I successfully weaned from the nipple shield! My little girl is 9.5 months and is exclusively breast fed. She gets bottles during the day while I am at work. Much like you, I hated that darn nipple shield! I initially felt like a failure for even having to use one, and then I just hated the darn thing for how inconvenient it was -- I was paranoid I was going to get thrush. I got so frustrated with my friends who told me I should just be thankful that at least she was breastfeeding -- even though I now know they were right

    We worked to wean the shield, pretty early, but I was not sucessful and she would scream, so I stopped and would try again in a week or two. At about 3 months, I finally got her to do one full feed on one breast without the nipple shield and I was estastic, but she wouldn't do it again. I finally just accepted it and would try probably once a week -- I usually fed with the cradle hold, but I found the football hold to be more successful for some reason. Finally at about 4.5 months, she just did it one day and never looked back. I had severe nipple pain/cuts/bleeding for about a month as we figured out the latch, but it was worth it to me to get rid of those shields.

    I swear I won't use one next time, but who knows if it lets these flat nipples breast feed, I will probably use them again. On a good note, I have had no problems with supply once I stopped using the shields. My pump output increased dramatically at work.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2011
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    I'm a success story, you can do it, it was hard for my baby to give it up too though. I successfully weaned off my nipple shields when lo was 4 mo. old and we're still nursing here at 19 months! It took a while to get her off the shields. I used them in the hospital for inverted nipples, then after about 5 days of her sucking my nipple into that shield plus pumping my nipples were out enough for her to latch onto and she didn't even seem to discern much difference with or without at 5 days, just sucked whatever was offered without question - the problem with weaning from it came after the second time I used it for longer, because after 4 weeks I had such crazy extreme pain making it impossible to nurse I went back on the shield to deal with the pain which worked like magic and I breathed a sigh of relief and used the shield for 3 months wihtout even considering giving it up! It sounds like they didn't really even have a great reason to give them to you though. I was hesitant to even wean from it because I didn't want anything to do with that bad pain again, but like you said, there are advantages to not having it. The one I most looked forward to was not having to look for that ns in the bed at night, it was always lost, I would have to turn on the light and wake everyone up looking for it before every feeding unlike now where I can just nurse her without the pre-show of searching for the ns with lights blazing us at 2:00 am...and 3am...and 4am...etc. . My husband and I used to say they should make it glow-in-the-dark or something. Back to the weaning from it, I just kept trying over and over like you are doing and finally it worked, I'm not sure what finally clicked for my lo, she just finally started nursing me one time after many many tries. I wish I had more advice, but I wanted to let you know it can be done even if your lo doesn't go for giving it up right away, mine definitely didn't. I remember I watched some youtube videos about getting off the shield and I don't have names or links but if you just search for nipple shield on youtube you could probably find them. One demonstrated just starting the nursing and when you can tell she's really into it and getting milk, quickly slip the shield off, although I do remember that certainly didn't work right away!, baby will get mad at first, but after doing it numerous times it will work. Just keep trying is what I did. Good luck, you can do it!
    Oh, and btw, I recently have had a sore nipple again from my lo biting me and I've tried to get her to use the shield again and she won't consider it now, so know that once they're off, they don't go around missing it! She loves just nursing me now and got mad when I tried to re-introduce the shield on that one side.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Most of what I've read so far has been about LOs weaning at about 6 weeks, so when 6 weeks came and went without success, I started to panic. Hearing that it's possible to wean later on is comforting.

    Let me also add that after browsing through this forum and reading about what some of you women sacrifice to provide your milk during less than ideal circumstances has been inspiring. I AM thankful that my LO will at least drink from the shield because there are many who would give anything for even that.

    I'll keep you posted on my progress. I'm determined not to give up.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    I am also a success story. Just spent a lot of time writing up my story about our NS journey...then I got logged off somehow and the whole thing got lost :-( Boo.

    Anyway short answer is my 3 month old just started rejecting it on her own. We tried unsuccessfully to wean her off of it. We had a combo of a small mouth, strong suck and really bad latch. She destroyed my nipples. I would have given up were it not for that stinking nipple shield. I owe our successful BF relationship first, of course to my daughter and I, but second to the nurse who gave me the NS to begin with. I was on the verge of giving up. I was SO MAD that I was not warned about all the difficulties associated with BFing. It isn't easy, no matter how perfect everything is. Bottom line I am so grateful to be able to produce milk and that my supply was not impacted at all, in fact I have had an oversupply at times.

    There is hope ladies. Eventually I became resigned to using it, and then suddenly my girl just was done with it. It was when I started trusting her that it all clicked. I read somewhere that babies need to feel confident in their efforts at BF, too. I believe that. I am sure to give my LO lots of positive reinforcement for her successes as well.

    Hang in there. Don't push your LO or yourself to wean if either of you are not ready. You'll know when everything clicks. But keep gently trying.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Can't Ween off Nipple-shield. Help! (Sorry, long)

    Thank you for sharing your story, missjilly. Yes, I have a love/hate for the NS, as well. Realistically, who knows if DS and I would have gotten this far without it. I'd rather BF with a NS than bottle feed without.

    DS gave it another try yesterday. He nursed for 3 minutes on one side (I timed it!) but started to get frustrated, so I immediately put the NS back on. I was so proud of him though. He did it again later for 1 minute, but again became frustrated and I don't want to push it. I want my breasts to be a happy place. We'll just keep truckin'.

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