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Thread: Can't quit the nipple shield!

  1. #1

    Default Can't quit the nipple shield!

    Hi. So, I am breastfeeding my 5 week old and have lots of challenges. First off, I have very large breasts (40dd) so it's not quite as easy as just putting my son on the boob, I have to position him carefully. Also, my nipples are flat so I've been using a nipple shield to nurse. It's going really well but I've heard long term use of a shield can hurt milk supply but every time I try just my nipple he can't get a grip on it, it's too small and flat. Even when a pump or the shield pull it out, it doesn't last so I continue to use the shield. He does very well with it but it does take him a long time to nurse and I'm wondering if it's because of the shield. I'd like to hear about anyone elses experience using this tool.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Tonawanda, NY

    Default Re: Can't quit the nipple shield!

    I had this exact problem. I have large breasts with small flat nipples. I used the shield for the first probably 6wks. I was a little frustrated that no one bothered to tell me the shield was meant to be temporary. The lactation consultants, the nurses, the pediatrician -no one! So I was basically on my own to wean her. Here's a couple things I learned (I put my main points in bold because I know I can be a bit long-winded!):

    The size of the shield is dependent on the baby's weight, not the size of your breast. XS is for a preemie, S is for NB to 7lb, and M is for 7lb+. I had been using the M size from the start even though my daughter was born 5lb11oz -mistake #1. I hated this because the XS size was the most comfortable on me, but the holes are smaller and she would get frustrated with the slow flow. The M size is hard to position just right and hurt when she sucked on it. The S size was ok, but once she hit 7lb and I switched up to the bigger size once again, I was getting so unbelievably frustrated at how inconvenient and painful it was! Then I learned what you already know -prolonged use of the nipple shield can hurt your supply.

    When I first attempted to wean her, it was such a nightmare. I put her on my breast without the shield and she would get the latch, but then pass out from exhaustion after 2 minutes of nursing. I couldn't figure out why until a LC pointed out that it was easier for her to pull the milk out with the shield because the shield keeps its form while your nipple doesn't. Flat nipples only add to the problem! Not to mention that I have kindof a weak let-down so this only made it harder for her. So then I tried starting her on the shield for about 2-3min enough to let-down and get the milk flowing and then remove the shield and let her pick up again. This worked well; she was able to latch on with the help of the shield to pull out my nipple and the milk already there and waiting for her. But it wasn't a long term solution. So I continued to start with the shield, but kept it on for less and less time before removing it. I think she got a little stronger and was then able to get the milk out easier. When I started giving her the breast without the shield at all, I found that I had to "prime the plumbing" a bit first to encourage let-down and get the milk flowing for her. I gently massaged my breast for about a minute before offering it to her, sometimes to the point where I would get a drop or two out before she latched on. This helped tremendously. She would latch on right away and nursed perfectly without the shield. Eventually she was able to be put right on the breast without the shield or the massage and encourage the let-down all on her own. This whole process probably took about 3 weeks to perfect before I could confidently throw out the shields -never to be seen again!

    It's hard, but it IS possible! Good luck to you!

    Forgot to add this: My problem was that my daughter couldn't get the milk out, not necessarily that she couldn't latch. Getting her to latch was difficult at first, but not impossible. The massage helped to draw the nipple out without use of the shield and sometimes I had to gently tug on them to get them out enough for her (NOT so much that it hurts, just a gentle tug). To get her to latch, I wait until her mouth is open wide, use my thumb and fingers to flatten the nipple like a sandwich and put it in her mouth and hold the sandwich until she sucks enough to hold it in her mouth. Like I mentioned above, the shield holds its form and your nipple doesn't so your baby will have to build up strength in his mouth to hold on to your nipple on his own so it doesn't flatten out again. This takes practice and sometimes lots of re-latching, but eventually he WILL hold on! At the risk of overloading you, I want to mention that re-latching several times while nursing can cause baby to swallow air. I learned this the hard way! Burp him often if that's the case. My daughter has had some awfully painful gas that I could have avoided if I burped her more. It takes longer, but I promise it's worth it!
    Last edited by @llli*thelittlestone1231; March 11th, 2014 at 10:01 AM.
    Lisa & David Est. 9/3/11
    Madeline 12/31/13

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Can't quit the nipple shield!

    Are you pumping? Because the nipple shield is linked to supply issues, the typical recommendation is that mother also pumps while using the shield. How much you will want to pump or rather how often, depends on your situation individually.
    I agree with pp that it takes time and patience to wean baby off the shield. One side may come before the other. You may have fits and starts. That's okay I typically suggest that mom be persistent but not panicky about getting off the shield it will happen. If the baby can nurse with the shield baby can nurse without it it's just going to take some practice, figuring out what latch techniques work for you and maybe baby growing. Luckily newborns grow very fast.
    I have never heard the nipple shield size has anything to do with the babies weight. Yes some babies can't handle particularly tall or wide shields. Shield that does not fit the infants mouth is not going to help much. But the shield also has to fit the mother correctly. If a mother is large nippled she's simply not going to be able to wear a small shield even if baby is small. I have seen mothers who used to shields that were too small and the baby was sucking the skin of the nipple right through the holes it was extremely painful. If mother has very small breasts or small nipples the larger shield may not work for her. The holes are the same size on all shields as far as I am aware so I'm not sure about that information. The holes on nipple shields are simply to allow the milk through, it has nothing to do with slow flow or fast flow, at least that has always been my understanding. I am most familiar with medela shields. If I am wrong please show me the information that I am lacking.
    Www.kellymom.com has a good article on nipple shields with many suggestions for weaning off.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 11th, 2014 at 10:12 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Can't quit the nipple shield!

    I do pump multiple times a day, usually after feedings to make sure baby is clearing out my supply and also to increase my supply. I will try the weaning but I don't think he's ready. His mouth is very tiny and he can't get enough breast tissue in his mouth without the help of the nipple. Thanks for the advice!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can't quit the nipple shield!

    I've got good news! I decided to offer Josh my breast without the shield today and he took it! Yay! :-)

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