My daughter is almost 5 mos. old and I am still using a nipple shield. Her weight gain is appropriate and she always seems satisfied after eating - I often even still see milk left in the shield when she is done. So, I don't think that the shield is reducing milk transfer or that we are having any of the problems normally associated with the shield. Nonetheless, I want to wean her from the shield because I want to continue bfing her for an extended period of time and I just can't see using the shield while she is a mobile toddler - she is already batting it off me while eating. Also, she is becoming a more active nurser (eat for a minute, look around, eat for a minute . . . on and on!) and using the shield is making public nursing a nightmare because I don't have enough hands to handle her and the shield!
I have tried to wean her from it before but have stopped for three reasons:
1) She seems to reject the bare breast when she is fussy (generally right before bed);
2) When I am fuller at night and feed her, my left breast shoots her in the face when she pulls off and it makes her really mad and wakes her up; and
3) After a day of going without the shield my breasts are very tender and I am afraid that I will again be as sore as I was when she was a newborn and I was nursing her without the shield - I had bleeding nipples and a very painful start to nursing. Do breasts "toughen" with use or is this tenderness a sign of a bad latch?
I have sought the help of lactation consultants in my area (non LLL), and haven't had much help - they seem to think it's not that big of a deal that she's on the shield b/c her weight gain is fine. So, any suggestions are greatly appreciated - thank you!