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Weaning off a nipple shield

(20 Posts)
Katey1010 Sun 26-Dec-10 17:15:02

I have a beautiful new 3-week old DD. She is a good feeder and much better at the BFing thing than I am! In hospital after a four day induction and labour extravaganza, I finally had a C-section. I was exhausted and in pain and so BFing didn't get off to a great start. I had nipples like raw, chopped liver (sorry TMI) and one of the nurses suggested a nipple shield. It did meant that we mixed expressing and BFing and a couple of formula feeds to get her started. She has done well and gained weight.

I now wish I had never started on the shield. DD doesn't really like bottles that much and hates formula (hasn't had any since we came home) but is addicted to the shield.

I have tried giving her a couple of minutes on the shield then slipping it off. Results in disgust from her or sleeping then waking to want fed a bit later. Just giving her the breast can work 1 time in a few (oddly, only on the left breast). If I offer the right without the shield or often the left, cue head thrashing and vocal annoyance (even though the supply is good and her mouth has milk in it then that leaks out). She and I end up covered in milk and I give in (can't bear her expression of horror at my starving her!). I can't cut the shield down as it is silicon and I was told this is bad because of edges.

What can I do? I want rid of the shield but can't seem to sort this out.

MumNWLondon Sun 26-Dec-10 19:39:14

Its very early days, she's only 3 weeks. I think just keep on trying, good that she's already taking the breast one time in a few.

TRy in middle of feed when she's less hungry, or after a feed when less tired - or try feeding her before she demands it - bascially trial and error to see if you can see when she is more likely to feed without.

Katey1010 Sun 26-Dec-10 20:53:59

Thanks. I know it's early days but I keep hearing dire consequences to the use of shields. It's making me a bit worried.

sazlocks Sun 26-Dec-10 20:58:22

Congrats and well done with perservering with bfeeding.
I have a very similar experience to you labour wise with DS1 ending in a emer c section after 4 days and we really struggled to get b feeding established. I was expressing and using nipple shields for about the first month. I used them to draw out the nipple and slowly withdrew them until DS1 latched on by himelf without the shield. It took a while though.
It is early days and I would say use whatever gets you through the days at the moment.
It would probably be helpful to get to a breastfeeding support group or baby cafe if you have one near you for some face to face support.

RubyBuckleberry Sun 26-Dec-10 21:03:30

Not much advice other than I know someone who did it and breastfed happily for months after smile. Persevere. It;ll happen

marzipananimal Sun 26-Dec-10 22:02:07

I used nipple shields for a while and weaned him off them with the help of a breastfeeding counsellor at a support group. She managed to teach me to latch him on without them which I'd been unable to do before.
Are there any groups near you?
Don't panic if it takes a while though. I used them until he was about 5 weeks old with no real problems

Katey1010 Sun 26-Dec-10 22:41:23

DH is on paternity for a couple more weeks and I'm planning on braving a group after he goes back.

DD latched on earlier today (again on the left confused) so I think I just have to have confidence that she will get it with time.

It's great to hear that others did this with no massive ongoing problems. If you read some of the literature you would think that bottles/FF/shields/expressing are the work of the devil. Not good for the hormonal first-time Mum.

MumNWLondon Sun 26-Dec-10 23:22:08

FWIW my SIL still using them at 4 months, still EBF after difficult start. Baby feeding well, sleeping well with shields. Although don't think SIL has tried very hard to get rid of them.

Lynzjam Sun 26-Dec-10 23:43:38

I'm still using them. DD is 3.5 months old. What are the 'dire consequences' you have heard about?

DD and I have been getting on fine with them. They were the only way I could get her to latch in the early days. She is now pulling them off herself and latching on my naked nip. We haven't stopped using them yet completely, but when she's ready to stop feeding with them then great. If not then that's fine too!

I too worried about using them due to what other people say about them but to be honest, they were just what DD and I needed!

yummumto3girls Mon 27-Dec-10 00:01:30

I have breasted 3 children and have used nipple shields each time with absolutely no problems. I have had 3 hungry babies who have fed lots and my boobs just would not have survived!! I have fed all three until they were about 10 months.

I really would not worry, they are a pain to have to sterilise etc but if it means your DD feeds happily then go with it. Health Visitors hate them but ignore them!

When have weaned off them it is been trial and error, try taking them off mid-feed, or every now and then trying without and then one day you will find she takes it without shield. As she gets bigger and stronger at feeding you will find she doesn't need the help of a shield to latch on. I would also try different shields, I only ever used the Avent ones as they were the softest and best shaped for me. Good luck, relax and enjoy your baby.

Katey1010 Mon 27-Dec-10 00:17:08

I have heard that they interfere with milk production, that babies can stop gaining weight and that they can cause damage to the nipple. Oh, and more likelihood of mastitis etc.

Since DD is gaining weight well, milk has come in fine and my nipples were blinking damaged before shields, I should chill out but you all know what's it's like. Anything you do in these early days is so loaded with concern about consequences.

Katey1010 Mon 27-Dec-10 01:01:05

I didn't see your post, Yummum. That's cheering to hear. I have a Medela shield and I did wonder about trying a smaller one to see if that would help.

ILoveGregoryHouse Mon 27-Dec-10 02:03:19

Katy, my dd is 7 weeks and we bf with shields no problem at all. My supply is not affected and I just couldn't feed without them. Dd is my fourth child and I have had all the latch advice possible btw. Using Avent shields, small size. I will continue with shields til bf stops, hopefully some time away.

Katey1010 Mon 27-Dec-10 03:49:23

That's great to hear. My MW (who is generally fantastic) is really keen to get DD off the shield but I will try to be patient with us both. Also love the name ILoveGregoryHouse grin

gummymum Mon 27-Dec-10 22:28:40

Does everyone sterilise shields? I am just washing with hot soapy water daily.

Lynzjam Mon 27-Dec-10 23:09:06

I use the same as one throughout the day and change it at night time. I keep it wrapped up in tissues or a Muslin cloth inbetween feeds.

So yeh when I do wash the shield it's in soapy water then boiled in a pan!

LadybeenKissingSantaClaus Mon 27-Dec-10 23:29:26

Katey you said yourself nipple shields can cause problems, not will cause problems. You know what to look out for, clearly. So trust yourself, you will pick up on problems if they occur. Nothing with a new baby stays the same for very long, even if it feels like this is going to be what it's like forever, you get used to one thing and the next day it changes. So just stay aware and if it works for you at the moment, don't sweat it. grin

amistillsexy Mon 27-Dec-10 23:59:38

Just thought I'd add my experience into the mix, Katie, but this is what worked for me, not necessarily something that would work for everyone, or something your HV would recommend!

I used nipple shields with all 3 of mine. I hated the fuss of using them, though, so wanted to wean them off them asap.

With each of them, I picked a day to go 'cold turkey', then spent the day relaxing in bed (good excuse!), with lots of skin-to-skin contact and 'snacking', by which I mean allowing the baby to have the nipple whenever he wants to, and in whatever position feels comfy. I have to say this was not easy for any of them (or me)-they all screamed when the nipple shield wasn't used, and I had to be really harsh, but I was determined to get off them!

I found 'rugby ball' was good if they would take one side and not the other-they'd often take the 'rejected' side if held rugby ball style. Also my ds2 loved to feed lying down, but neither ds1 or ds3 would do it, so they really are all different even at this young age!

I managed to get all 3 of them off the shields at around 3 weeks for each of them, but with each I waited until they had put on plenty of weight, and made sure my supply was good (I think I was expressing as well, so we had extra if we needed it) and I was quite harsh with the cold turkey thing- no going back for any of them once I decided it was d-day!

All 3 of my boys went on to be breast fed until self-weaning, at around 15 months for each of them. And all 3 were fantastic feeders after very difficult starts.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, Katie. It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Like others have said, enjoy feeding your baby in whatever way you choose. It's the bonding that takes place whilst feeding that's most important, not the method used, imo.

weehector Wed 29-Dec-10 00:23:20

Hi Katie...nothing like those hormones to make you feel you're not the perfect mother...

Firstly, well done on keeping with the bf despite the hurdles. I was kept in hospital for 5 days to try & establish bf but I have enormous norks & big flat nipples (32j before pregnant) & the little one was too sleepy to suckle so we went home expressing & cup feeding. If the community MW hadn't advised getting nipple shields on her first visit I doubt I'd have been able to establish feeding at all as my attempts were causing him to become increasingly distressed.

But with shields everything clicked instantly. Weight gain was steady & with the usual growth spurts but I did have that slight sad that I wasn't feeding properly & continued to try & feed without it every day or so which usually met with his howls of frustration at not being able to feed.

Around the 9 week mark, I managed to get him to feed for a few minutes without the shield, slipping it off whilst lying down during the middle of a night feed. It build up from there, taking more each time (with a few steps back here & there, usually when he was tired & didnt want to do the extra work to tease the nipple out) & by about 12 weeks, he was taking all his feeds without the shield & we're still going strong - sucking the life out of me tbh - at 19 weeks.

Now I'm out the other side & can be rational about it, I just think he needed to be a bit bigger to cope with my
large breasts & my nipples needed teasing out & I'm so grateful to have had that tool to help me get to this stage.

I had fab support from my HV & bf group counsellors who were not down on them at all..quite the opposite, I got lots of 'well done you' for still bf & I'd highly recommend going to one, if not for advice on latch, positioning, etc, to see how we're all different & have different struggles with feeding.

Also used Avent on recommendation of MW. Good luck!

Katey1010 Wed 29-Dec-10 21:01:10

Thanks so much everyone. It sounds much less dire when people tell their individual stories. I suppose that is the point of MN! DD is still feeding really well and I am not going to stress too much. You are all right. At least it`s allowed me to continue BFing and she is a healthy baby (crossed fingers). She is currently going through a growth spurt so I have given up trying while she is feeding so much. Ouch!!!

I got Advent ones but got small. That set me back a couple of days. I must get bigger ones as they did look less invasive.

On the sterilising subject. I was told to wash in hot soapy water. I do sterilise it when I do everything else but not especially.

Thanks so much everyone.

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