First, I apologize for the very long post as this is my first...
My 6 week old ds was born badly tongue tied with and would not latch on at all due to my flat nipples. After 5 days of finger feeding, the lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield to try... after a few weeks, my son has become an expert at eating with the shield and has already gained almost 3 pounds... He is also not a crier or a big fusser, so for the first four weeks, I had to wake him for every feed as he wouldn't tell me when he was hungry.
For the last week and a half, I have been trying to wean him off the nipple shield as I continually try the nipple with every feeding and he showed the beginning signs of being able to successfully latch on. Since I started to wean him, he has been doing great - his latch is very strong - although it still often takes us several minutes before he 'gets it'. I have still been using the shield to ensure he receives plenty of milk as I was concerned his diapers weren't as wet. The last two days, we have only used the shield for his middle of the night feedings - mainly b/c I am too tired to fight with him and he is too tired to try very hard. Still - I see this as a huge improvement. If I can get him to perfect his day time feedings, then I can move on to the night time ones (about 3 out of 9 feedings at night we use the shield).
So a few questions: he seems to eat for a shorter amount of time without the nipple shield. Only about 8-10 minutes on average - and only on one breast. He has never been a very long eater, but is this normal? He eats every 2 - 3.5 hours and his feedings have increased in frequency the last few days - is that b/c he is so hungry from not using the shield? He seems to eat the same way as with the nipple shield, but I still worry I am starving him. He still has a wet diaper with almost every feeding and 2 or 3 bm a day. I always offer him the shield when he finishes eating, but he never takes it anymore after he has eaten properly directly from the breast.
With the shield, he used to eat around 15-20 minutes on one breast, and a few minutes on the other when he would take it.
Is it normal that he only eats for such a short amount of time before being 'done'? He seems to be full and satisfied.
Also - any tips on how to wean him from the shield at night?
Many people have told me to just give up trying to breast feed without the shield as it has worked so great for us but I really REALLY want to BF without it, and he has proven to me that he can do it. However, the process of weaning is so unbelievably difficult, that I wonder if I am causing us both more pain that is needed...
All suggestions/opinions would be appreciated!