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Let's talk about nipple shields!

(23 Posts)
MotherTT Thu 17-Jan-19 21:07:44

Our baby boy was born just over 3 weeks ago (very suddenly) and was 5 weeks early. As a preemie baby he was on additional observations and was fed formula straight away in the hospital - we then went on to 3 hourly feeds, where I'd try to establish breastfeeding and top up. He struggled latching but over the next few weeks he improved. We moved to exclusively giving him breast milk whilst my husband was still off work as I was able to express whilst he gave him his top up. Although he didn't gain weight initially, after just under a week he was back to birth weight and we were told to try some responsive feeding.

Around the same time he cluster fed and had a growth spurt... and latching suddenly became painful (he was really trying but we struggled). After he'd latched for a short while, he'd come off and couldn't latch again and was never satisfied. Part way through a feed he does this 'dream feeding' thing where his mouth is still sucking and he thinks he's still feeding. A breast feeding specialist identified the problem and we got the latch with her... but since then we've really struggled at home and can only sort of get it on one side until he relaxes and starts dream drinking again.

Because my nipples were sore I bought some nipple shields and didn't realise how beneficial they would be for him. They've transformed feeding for us. We don't need to do top ups, he's satisfied and I don't have to express!

That said - I've read so many negative things about nipple shields. And even though he's getting a great feed and is thriving with them - I can't help but feel a bit guilty for using them. Even though I plan to wean him off them when he's ready!

Does anyone have any positive nipple shield stories to share? And at how many weeks did you begin to wean?

OP’s posts: |
PrincessPee Thu 17-Jan-19 21:14:03

As a midwife - if it supports you to BF then it’s avsolutely beneficial - as opposed to struggling/getting too sore and then switching completely to formula!

PrincessPee Thu 17-Jan-19 21:17:44

And wouldn’t worry about weaning them if his nappy output and weight gain is good!

KatnissMellark Thu 17-Jan-19 21:20:49

Nipple shields saved breastfeeding for me, DS was like a fucking piranha! I just roll my eyes when people slag them off. I used them up to about 16 weeks, by which time his mouth was bigger and a 'naked' latch was comfortable. Kept on breastfeeding for a year smile

Littlebelina Thu 17-Jan-19 21:27:23

I only used them for about week each time. DS had no issue with them, gained weight well and I just weaned as I found them a faff esp when out. Dd was slow to gain weight and I wasn't sure if the shields were an issue so weaned for that reason.

However if they don't cause you issues and you don't mind using them then there is no reason you have to give them up. My midwife always said better to fed with them than give up breastfeeding

NoSuchThing Thu 17-Jan-19 21:28:45

I used nipple shields in order to establish breastfeeding with my baby who was a month premature, had a couple of weeks being tube fed in NICU, too sleepy with jaundice to even attempt to latch on.I had to listen to a lot of negativity from midwives about nipple shields, which really undermined my confidence at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight they saved our breastfeeding relationship. Without a shadow of a doubt I would have switched to formula without nipple shields. We quit the nipple shields cold turkey around week 8/9. There were a lot of tears; I developed incredibly sore nipples, and turned out my boy had a tongue tie, which had meant he was struggling to maintain his latch. Once that was cut, our bfing has gone from strength to strength; he’s about to turn one and we’re still bfing.
Which is my long winded way of saying nipple shields are a great tool. Use them. Establish breastfeeding, then if you want to, get some support to stop using them. My sister and two of my friends also used shields to start. It’s far more common than you think. Also, please get your baby checked for tongue tie if he’s struggling to maintain a latch. Not by a regular midwife or a peer supporter, by someone with some actual training.

SpacePenguin Thu 17-Jan-19 21:30:09

Nipple shields are amazing, amazing amazing things. Ignore the negativity and enjoy the fact that bf is going well. Without them I wouldn't have been able to bf any of my 3.

You can wean off them if and when you and baby are ready. I know someone who weaned off them at 12 weeks and someone else who used them past 6 months.

BringBackDoves Thu 17-Jan-19 21:30:22

They saved breastfeeding for me too. Agony, absolute agony - started using them and it was a breeze. I think I got to about 8 weeks and started gradually removing them during a feed at first, and eventually stopping completely. Think DS just needed a bigger mouth! He was bf until 3 so there was no stopping us then!

MotherTT Thu 17-Jan-19 21:36:42

Thank you thank you thank you! Reading these makes me feel so much better... it's so good to see some positive comments around them. And that a few of you successfully weaned.

Re tongue tie - this was checked in hospital and he's OK. I think he's still just too tiny!

OP’s posts: |
FaithInfinity Thu 17-Jan-19 21:38:10

DD was low birth weight and struggled to latch. We used nipple shields short term to establish a latch, gradually weaving off them within a couple of weeks (basically after she’s grown enough to manage to latch on to my ample nipples). I was advised to express afterwards though due to risk of mastitis - not sure if that’s actually true/necessary?

ToftheB Thu 17-Jan-19 21:42:43

They were a lifesaver for me - ds had a tongue tie and was only tiny. I was really struggling to get him to latch. Nipple shields worked and took the pain and stress out of breastfeeding for the first few weeks, and then he weaned off them with no issues once the tie was snipped and his mouth was bigger. I would use them again in a heartbeat.

AGoodMandarin Thu 17-Jan-19 21:44:55

Used them for dc1 from about 4-8 weeks - in fact I was advised to by a lactation consultant as I was on the brink of giving up otherwise - weaned off them no problem. She also just needed a bigger mouth to latch properly!

Bigonesmallone3 Thu 17-Jan-19 21:49:25

By the time dd was 5 days she started throwing up blood.. I was hysterical until i realised it was from my incredibly sore nipples..
I was stuck, baby needed to be fed I was SOOO full but couldn't bare it.. I purchased nipple shields the same morning and it was heaven..
If it wasn't for them I think I would of had to call it a day..
Went on to bf til dd was 13 months

keeponrunning85 Thu 17-Jan-19 21:49:49

Nipple shields absolutely kept us breastfeeding. My nipples were in shreds and I started using them when DD was 5 days old. I weaned off by going cold turkey when she was 9 weeks, mainly because I found them a faff when out and about and also very messy. She seemed to be getting confused by the gradual weaning hence the cold turkey. By that point I was also mentally much more able to cope with the trials of breastfeeding, although there were still tears!

I was fortunate in that all the midwives and the breastfeeding support team in my local area were very supportive of just doing whatever you need to if it keeps you breastfeeding and I had no negative comments.

Just remember, you are doing a marvelous job!

namechangedtoday15 Thu 17-Jan-19 21:51:19

I had twins at 27 weeks- they were fed by tube with my milk until about 34 weeks when we tried to establish breastfeeding. Apparently my nipples weren't very big and they had very tiny mouths (still less than 4lb each at that point) and a midwife on the neonatal unit suggested nipple shields. They really helped and I established full breastfeeding and got to take them home at the equivalent of 36.5 weeks. We used them until their due date, so for another 3 or 4 weeks, then just stopped and they latched on normally. I breastfed them until they were 1 smile

SmallAndFarAway Thu 17-Jan-19 21:55:05

I fed with them for almost a year, with a baby that in retrospect probably was tongue-tied. It got a bit old sterilising the sodding shields at the end, but I was so relieved it worked that I never thought about weaning from them.

birdinatree Thu 17-Jan-19 22:06:55

And me - only way DS would BF - used them for a year, after terrible advice from a BF consultant and a stint back in hospital my cousin sent me some and it was like magic. Ended up using them for my DD for a year too - all good! (Except the annoying sterilisation)

jenjen99 Fri 29-Nov-19 14:24:58

Is there a nipple shield brand you'd recommend?

Lady1576 Thu 18-Jun-20 17:02:20

I know this is an old thread but after worrying about using nipple shields, I promised myself I’d go online to post my positive experience of them to help stop other mums from worrying. Baby boy was full term and healthy but just wasn’t quite getting the hang of latching on in hospital. We stayed in a little longer than necessary to try and get feeding established but it wasn’t really happening. In the end the midwife grudgingly gave us some nipple shields to try out and slowly it started working. Although community midwives were really supportive and said, that if they were allowing me to breastfeed then that was great, there was a feeling that I should wean off them and it would be hard. I had also heard milk supply might be affected etc. I tried some strategies like taking them off half way through etc but it wasn’t helping. Then all at once at about week 8 when we were doing skin to skin, my DS just went for it! I still used them after that, because to be honest, they avoid the faff of having to get a good latch every time and mean you have no pain at all! At around 11 weeks I was using them just at the beginning of a feed when my breasts were very full and then removed them once the breast was a little emptier, so it was easier to latch. Now he’s 15 weeks and he doesn’t want them anymore so now we’re not using them at all. My milk supply hasn’t been affected, and weaning off them wasn’t hard, he just needed to get bigger and better at sucking! Nothing I did helped when he wasn’t ready, (apart from the skin-to-skin). And now he’s ready, I didn’t need to do anything special. Please use nipple shields without hesitation if you are struggling and don’t spend ages worrying about it, like I did!

sarmum14 Sun 05-Jul-20 11:31:32

@Lady1576 I needed to see this and read this whole thread! I have a 9 day old DD who was struggling to latch and became v drowsy and stopped feeding by day 4. Hired a lactation consultant who spotted a tongue tie that the hospital and community midwife had missed. We’ve been happily feeding for last 4/5 days with the help of the nipple shields that she gave me and suggested I use but of course have been feeling wildly guilty ever since because of all the negative connotations of using them. I had a similar issue with my DS 4 years ago and looking back he had a tongue tie too but we never got it sorted and he ended up being FF so I’m really keen to try and BF as long as possible this time around.

isitmethough Sat 11-Jul-20 08:17:49

Can anyone recommend a particular brand? Are the Medela ones good

Lady1576 Sat 11-Jul-20 14:01:41

Yes, the Medela ones are very good.

isitmethough Sun 12-Jul-20 15:55:14

Thanks @lady

Does anyone know whether they are helpful if the issue is a nipple that is too large for the mouth? Rather than small nipples. The sticky outy bit of my nipple appears to be quite big so I need the baby to open wider than he really can/will right now :-/

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