Using Nipple Shields

Updated on February 21, 2008
V.K. asks from Cherry Hill, NJ
45 answers

I know my pediatrician wants me to stop using the nipple shield but my baby latches SO hard and my nipples are VERY sore - my fear is that my baby isn't getting enough by using the shield and wonder if anyone knows differently and is it ok to continue using the shield as I don't want to introduce formula since she's not even 2 weeks old yet. Please respond and calm my fear of using this thing! :) Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Everything is working out wonderful - I have used the shield only if really needed other than that, she is doing great on just my nipple - they are getting used to the "abuse" :) She's definitely getting enough nutrition, the LC came over and watched her nurse and said she is latching correctly- I just needed to get used to it. I'm glad I haven't given up, she's an amazing baby!

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M.D.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hello,
I had a lot of problems when I started breastfeeding; my little boy didn't want to latch at all, I used the nipple shields for 2.5 months, I was also pumping to keep my milk supply up... once he learned how to latch I was extremly sore for a couple of weeks, I would recomend you to get in touch with a lactation consultant.. It helps a lot..
Good luck...

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J.A.

answers from Philadelphia on

My sister used a nipple shield until her little one was about a month and a half. I would use it until she is really good and latching on and then slowly ween her off of it. I don't see a harm in using it.

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J.J.

answers from Philadelphia on

I breast fed for the first 7 months of my son's life plus formula. Your nipples will be sore for the first week. Once you are done with the week/two weeks, it will be great for you. Mine were bleeding so bad and were chapped because my son sucked so hard. I kept it up and once the pain stopped it was great especially when they woke up in the middle of the night.

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R.H.

answers from Philadelphia on

Everyone is correct. The nipple shields are like a band-aid to get the baby to latch at the beginning. Most people do not need them to effectively breastfeed and you will have longterm problems if you continue to use them. Your baby will soon only use a nipple shield to breastfeed and you will probably have to supplement with formula. You are so right--it is very painful in the beginning. Put that cream on every time after you breastfeed and work through it. It will get better and you will be happy with your decision.

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J.H.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V.! I don't know if this will help or not, but I used them too for a while with our baby. He couldn't latch on easily and the shield helped with this. Our problems was my flat nipples. I had a terrific lactation consultant (in MO unfortunately so that won't help you!). She felt that they were o.k. to use, but ideally I would stop using them by about a month. So that was one lactation consultant's opinion if that helps!

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S.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V.,

I think it has more to do with whether your baby is gaining weight. I used the shield for the first 6 weeks with no supplementation, and didn't have to because she was gaining weight quickly. I heard different theories on using the shield--the lactation specialists at the hospital told me to supplement when they released me but my pediatrican saw she was eating enough. I don't necessarily agree with ditching the shield...we had no problems transitioning and I still breastfeed at 9 months. It helped that I also pumped so she was used to a bottle nipple (aka another surface). I think it depends on the baby. Good luck.

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L.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

My baby had a hard time latching and would only latch with the nipple shield. I used it for the first 3 months. I would practice without the shield also so she could get used to it. And gradually we got comfortable enough to forgo the shield all together. She got plenty of food. Your baby will let you know if she is getting enough food. As for the soreness, that goes away as your nipples get calloused. My baby is now almost 6 months, she's growing and healthy and we no longer use the shield. I would continue to use the nipple shield if that is what is working. I wish someone would have warned me that breastfeeding would be so difficult at first, but it does get better. Its definitely worth it.

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C.C.

answers from Harrisburg on

Hope everything went ok with the LC. I used shields until our baby was 4 weeks old. She gained her birth weight back in 7 days on them and continued to gain fine with the shields. The transition was also easy from shield to no shield. You will probably still be tender the first two-three days but it is well worth it and after that you will be fine. Use the lansinoh after each feeding too that helped me a lot.

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J.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

With my first daughter, I used the nipple shield all the time. I nursed her for 13 months and she certainly got enough to eat!!! I wouldn't worry about it- too much worry, less milk!!!

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A.D.

answers from Philadelphia on

I think it is awesome that you are breastfeeding. I had sore nipples as well. Firstly...your nipples are going to be sore until they get used to being sucked on 6-8 times a day. Secondly...you could have a latch issue. Have you tried going to any nursing support groups. Media has a great store called BirthMark. They have a nursing support group that meets during the week...and you can nurse there and ask nursing questions. I highly recommend that you go.
BirthMark
107 S. Monroe Street, Media, PA 19063
###-###-####

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L.H.

answers from Pittsburgh on

First of all, you need to be sure your baby is latching on properly. Try to find a lactation consultant or a local Le Leche League person to help you. If your baby is latching on properly, then you just have to stop using the shields and that will help your nipples adjust faster.

I know how it can be. I have four girls and it hurt the first few weeks with all of them, but it does get better. A couple of them felt like they were trying to suck the nipple off!

Use lanolin cream, but be sure it is the kind that is safe for babies.

Good luck and hang in there! Breastfeeding is best for baby and if you can keep doing it, you will be so glad later that you did.

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M.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

It is going to hurt when you first start nursing. If your baby has a good latch, then take the shield off and get used to it. Your nipples aren't used to being moist or sucked on for long periods of time (unless you are really kinky... :P )

Get some Lansinloh or other cream for your nipples and give yourself a week or two for your nipples to toughen up. If you don't you will be using the shields until you decide to stop nursing, and using them, might be such a pain that it happens even sooner.

Good luck hun. But trust me, the pain is worth it for your baby!

~meg
17 mo boy and STILL NURSING!

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K.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

V.,
I had trouble nursing too -- my advice, however, if you want to continue nursing long term (I did it until my son was 13 months) is to get rid of the shield. Your baby will eventually not nurse without it and it may affect his/her use of a bottle later on. (Maybe it won't, but maybe it will). What happens if you lose it while out shopping, etc -- do you have to go quickly to find one so baby will nurse? And, is baby getting enough? Those are questions to really consider. My nipples hurt so bad that I would tear up. And, for a while I was so tense the nursing thing wouldn't work b/c of my tension. But, if you push through it, the nipples toughen up and baby will learn and you'll relax. Maybe play some nice music or use a hot pad before and after, or work with baby to loosen up. Any lactation nurse around to help you with this?

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J.M.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi V.,

I used a nipple shield with my son when he was a newborn too. He had difficulties latching and it was the only way I could get him to nurse. As long as your baby is getting enough milk (having 5-6 wet diapers per day), then she will be fine with the shield. The shiled can sometimes decrease your supply - but if you are using it correctly and your baby is having enough wet diapers, then it isn't anything to worry about. It can be difficult to wean your baby from the shield once you start. I weaned my son at around 3-4 weeks and it was a battle of the wills - which he usually won. Most babies will actually self-wean from the shield to nursing on your breast at 3-6 months if you don't do anything. So I would say, if you want to keep using it and your baby is getting enough, then there is no harm in using it.

Remember that your baby is just about due for her first growth spurt (generally around 3 weeks). During this time she will nurse a lot and always act hungry - this is COMPLETELY NORMAL. It should last about 3-7 days and then she should start nursing less again. Be sure not to confuse her growth spurt with her not getting enough milk. As long as she is wetting, you know she is getting enough milk - so just keep nursing her on demand. Growth spurts typically occur at 3, 6, and 12 weeks - and there are a few others as well.

Congrats on your new baby!

J.
A Mother's Boutique
Breastfeeding clothing, nursing bras, breastpumps, slings and accessories
MamaSource members save 10% off your first order with promo code MAMASOURCE.
http://www.mothersboutique.com

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N.P.

answers from Philadelphia on

Its fine to use the nipple shield as long as you need it until nursing is normal. My daughter had similar trials and the nipple shield saved the nursing. Now at 9 mos her baby is a nursing pro and her nipples are fine. Bon courage!!

B.K.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Are you switching breasts after the first 10 minutes? When I nursed my daughter I was told to start on the last side you used and let her nurse for 10 minutes then switch sides and let her go until she is done. The soreness you are experiencing will end as you get used to her demand...so listen to your doctor and toss the shields, drink plenty of liquids, eat a good diet and you'll be fine! It is hard at first, but with plenty of support & rest (for now you should try to take a nap whenever she is sleeping) along with a good diet you'll do great and so will she! Congrats & best wishes.

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S.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V.! My son was 5 1/2 premature and too weak to nurse but I wanted so badly to nurse him so the Lactation Consultant at the hospital introduced the nipple shield. It worked great but he got so used to it, he couldn't latch on without it. It WAS a bit inconvenient but he nursed for 6 months with it with no problems for either of us. My advice to you is 1)Call the Lactation Consultant at the hospital at which you delivered. They are usually so much more helpful than pediatricians (not all I suppose!). 2)Go to the La Leche League website for resources and to find support in your area - http://www.llli.org. 3) There are some great creams for nipple soreness. 3)Follow your motherly instincts! You know the answer in your heart. Congratulations and best wishes!

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N.B.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Talk to a lactation consultant, but I would try to stop using it as soon as possible. It can interfere with the supply demand cycle and babies get used to it and may find it hard to latch on without it. Plus, you will get more comfortable with breastfeeding sooner if you stop using the shield. It shouldn't continue to hurt once the two of you have a little more practice. It is still early on, so just trust your body, know that it is designed to do this, but it does take some getting used to! Best wishes, N.

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W.M.

answers from Philadelphia on

I used the nipple shields for about 4 weeks (until I just couldn't stand it any more). My son got enough using it, but was much happier when he did latch on, it did hurt for a while, but it did not last long at all. If you don't have to, don't start formula, stick with the nursing thing its the best for them!!! Good Luck!

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K.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I say keep using it. My lactation consultant said that some people have to use it the whole time their baby nurses. The only thing I will say is when I stopped using the sheild I noticed that my daughter was eating alot better and seemed to be getting more milk but who knows for sure. It would be nice if they could talk and tell you what they are getting. If your baby is putting out enough wet diapers though, I would say she is getting enough milk and use the sheild as long as you like.

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B.B.

answers from State College on

Hi V., I did not prepare my nipples for breastfeeding with my second child and they were very sore so I used a shield every other feeding until they toughened up. You may have to use it more often at first if they're really sore. Feeding both ways is good so you can pump and if you have to leave her she'll take a bottle nipple easier. If you keep using a shield every feeding for too long she may not feed without it. If she's gaining weight, I'm sure she's getting enough milk. Try not to worry. I'm sure she'll be fine Barb

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J.M.

answers from Philadelphia on

I used one with both babies for the first few weeks to assist with latching. They had no problems getting enough milk. After a couple of months, I stopped using them because she (both times) had the hang of it. Hope that helps! Talk to a lactation consultant if you are nervous about it. Our local hospital has a b-f support group where you could ask advice and get your baby weighed each week.

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E.F.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi V.. First let me say that you are doing a great job and that you need to give your self a lot of credit for sticking with this so far. I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding at first too, and I know how heartbreaking it can be when it doesn't go well. I am going to echo everyone else and say "get thee to a lactation consultant." Not all LC are created equal, though, so find one you like.

I used nipple shields for probably the first 6 weeks. My problem was that my nipples were fairly big and I had an unenthusiastic nurser who wasn't interested in trying to figure out how to get that big breast into his little mouth! The nipple shields were critical in helping him to figure out how to nurse (he was also taking a bottle after every feeding to because he was not gaining weight), but they were interfering with my already-not-so-good milk supply. With the LC, we worked at weening him off the nipple shields (cutting chunks out of it so I would get some of his mouth on my skin, which stimulates the milk supply), and I pumped after every daytime feeding. I also used a perscription nipple cream that had ibuprofin, an anti-fungal, and a couple other things in it. (Can't remember what it was called, but you have to get it at a compounding pharmacy.)

I don't know where you are located, but if you are in the Pittsburgh area I would suggest calling the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh. They have LCs that are also MDs, and can really help you. They made such a difference for me.

Good luck, and know that you are NOT the only person to have gone through this.

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J.B.

answers from Harrisburg on

I haven't heard anyone discourage a mom for using nipple shields, so I do not know if it hinders your milk. It seems to me though that it wouldnt, I mean really why or how could it. As for your baby and latching on so hard...I do know about that. I know that when my son was about your babies age I thought seriously my nipples would fall off! They were cracked and bleeding and sooooo sore. When he would latch on I thought I would hit the roof. However, it seems like just one day it all turns around and there is no pain. Its like a miracle. I used the guards for awhile and then found I just didnt need them any more. I belive you will find that as well. Stick w/ it, it really truly only gets EASIER!!!

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J.R.

answers from Philadelphia on

get lanolin cream it heals wonders this was my saving grace i would have quit nursing after the first week. your nipples will be sore but they will toughen up i promise! it is uncomfortalbe at first. any questions feel free to email me [email protected]____.com

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H.M.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V.,
I really understand about HARD latching babies;) My son, who is now almost three months, left hickeys on my nipples for the first few weeks until my nipples toughened up. The lactation specialist said I could use nipple shields if I wanted but I found that just waiting it out until my nipples adjusted was okay with me. I think you are fine with the shields, or maybe use them every other time you nurse till your nipples can get toughen up. It really does hurt, I know, but you'll be surprised how fast your body adjusted to the needs of the baby. On a side note, I really don't think you need to supplement with formula - your body will produce everything the baby needs and your baby will always nurse till she is full. I personally love breast-feeding and think it is one of the greatest things about being a mom. My son has begun to coo and talk and play during our nursing time and it's a real joy to experience. good luck and Namaste,

H.

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E.M.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Dear V.,

I nursed my third child. After about a month my nipples started to hurt less. They seem to get tougher as you nurse, then the soreness goes away completey. As for shields, eh? I would just hang in there just a little while longer. Nursing was a beautiful experience for me.

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N.H.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Dear V.,
Keep using the nipple shield. It is the best thing ever, and not that easy to find (believe it or not). It saved the day for me with my first baby. My nipples were cracked and bleeding when a social worker in the hospital brought me that miracle gadget. Everyone was surprised that I wanted to continue nursing! Daaaa. I nursed her for almost three years.
Eventually your nipples will not be sore and then you will get rid of the shield. Right now the most important thing is to keep nursing and trust your instincts to NOT supplement a bottle! A baby has to work harder to nurse than to drink from a bottle and they can get lazy, another potential problem is that your body (eventually) makes just the amount of milk that the baby demands. Supplementing will decrease your milk supply. I have seen lots of women give up nursing once they start supplementing formula. Kudos to you on your perseverance. The first two weeks are the hardest. Believe me! You and your baby will get through it.
N

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A.L.

answers from York on

Hi V.,

First of all Congratulations on your new baby- AND for choosing to breastfeed your baby! Everyone's nipples are VERY sore for the first few weeks with their first baby (I found that they were less so with subsequent babies). Just stop using the nipple shield and allow your breasts to toughen up a little. Yep, your toes will curl everytime that baby latches on for a little while, but soon you'll see that there is no pain. You just have to get over the initial period of getting used to the constant suckling. Stick with it and soon the pain will be a thing of the past. And remember- you won't have this pain if you have another baby, so give breastfeeding a chance again with the next one!

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J.H.

answers from Philadelphia on

I would get a lactation consultant to see you. They can ensure that your latch is good which will minimize pain even with a strong sucker.
While not ideal, I know some people who have used shields for 6 + months. If pees (6+ per day) and poops(3+ per day) are good (this is for the first 6 weeks) and baby is back to birth weight (by 10 days), then baby is getting milk. You just need to make sure that baby is latched appropriately to breast (with shield on). If the latch is correct you will have enough milk and produce enough for your baby.
Good luck and hang in there. It does get better

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L.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V.,
Your not going to like my answer. I used nipple shields and they completely sabotaged my milk supply. I had the same problem as you....my nipples would even bleed. However, when the baby latches onto the shield, it just doesn't stimulate the milk supply and you will end up on formula b/c you won't produce enough milk.
I know it's dreadful. But as your baby grows she will become better at latching on. If you want to continue nursing....I would see a lactation consultant TODAY! Best of luck to you! And whatever happens, don't beat yourself up.

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D.W.

answers from Philadelphia on

sometimes you have to supplement and do breast milk and formula. i could not breastfeed so i did formula and my son was just fine. sometimes,babies sleep better when they have formula because it makes their tummies fuller. some women do not make enough milk for their babies. i could not breastfeed becuase i had a breast reduction when i was sixteen years old. while i was sad i could not breast feed i knew it was a side effect of having the breast reduction.my son is doing well and is almost seven months old. there are so many formulas out there so go check it out and make sure the baby has enough to eat.

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S.Y.

answers from Philadelphia on

More than likely, the baby is latching on in the wrong position that's why your nipples are so sore. I tried using the breast shield because I produced so much milk, it overwhelmed my baby. Ultimately, the shield caused my milk to dry up. Be careful and good luck!!

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R.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

I actually used a nipple shield for 6 weeks, which was the length of time that I nursed. I pumped at the same time and was able to give my son a bottle or 2 each day with no problem. Hope this is helpful!

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M.F.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi V., I used the nipple shields the entire time i nursed, which was 9 weeks. It was the only way my daughter could really latch on since i have a realativly flat nipple.I used them for every feeding and there was plenty of milk coming out. My Ped. never asked me to stop but he did ask a few times if i was still using them. As far as i'm concerned i was more comfortable which would make my baby more comfortable and the milk was flowing so all was good. I think in some ways it also made for an easier transition for my daughter to the bottle. Use your motherly instince and do what you feel is best. Take care.

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A.R.

answers from Philadelphia on

Try using lanolin cream for your nipples. It really does help. I never used a nipple shield but my nipples were very sore for the first couple of weeks with both of my children. It will get better soon no matter what you do, so I agree with your pediatrican that you should try and stop using the shield. But do try lanolin! It really helped me especially recently with my daughter - I was in agony!

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S.O.

answers from Sharon on

With my last son, I used a nipple shield to nurse him until he was almost a year old. I had an inverted nipple so he used the shield from birth.
I was given the shield in the N.I.C.U. after my son was born and my pedaitrician never said I had to stop using it.
My son is now a healthy 4yo with no long lasting effects to him, his teeth or his health.

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A.T.

answers from Allentown on

I'm certainly not an expert but I'll let you know my experience. My son had difficulty nursing at the start and a lactation consultant recommended the nipple shield and he did fantastic. We used in from 5 days old until 3 1/2 weeks old. and one day he easily weaned from it just to the breast. Is the doctor concerned about weight gain at this point? My son did very well growing despite the nipple shields, but maybe you could have a scale to monitor just in case.

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D.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi V., I had some issues while nursing my two children and was advised to use a nipple shield by a lactation consultant. It helped greatly and I don't think it inhibited the amount of milk the baby got at all. My advice would be to try and find a local lactation consultant to help you. It will make you feel more comfortable with your choices if you hear from someone who is like minded(as I'm sure your pediatrician is not).

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M.R.

answers from State College on

V.,

My daughter used a nipple shield for her first two. She has inverted nipples andd that was the only way she could get the baby to latch on. I would say if the baby seems satisfied, is not losing weight, then don't worry. My daughter's pediatrician told her that whatever worked, to do.

My daughter did say that you need to make sure the nipple shield is on correctly or your nipples will get sore. Hope this helps you.

M. R.

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M.N.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I am sorry V., but your pediatrician is right. You really have to stop using it soon, the sooner the better. Slowly but surely your milk supply will diminish. Babies get 20-50% less milk nursing on a shield. I honestly don't know why they hand out those things. Nursing at first if painful- your nipples have to get used to it. If you keep using the shield you are prolonging the inevitable. Do you have a lactation consultant you can see? She may be able to give you some advice on how to gently wean both of you from the shield. Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi! Your nipples really shouldn't be that sore. You should try and get the latch evaluated. Can you afford to see a lactation consultant? If you happen to have Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance they should reimburse. It is also recommended to pump a bit after feedings if you are using the shield all the time. It helps to make sure you are emptying your breast and to give them enough stimulation.

I'm a counselor with Nursing Mothers Alliance, free telephone counseling. Give us a call and we can share lots of great tips and resources. www.nursingmothersalliance.org

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J.O.

answers from Lancaster on

Hi V.
I wanted the perfectly natural everything for my baby. I rubbed my nipples for months to toughen them and when I had my first he was like a pirahnna!. My milk didnt let down until after I left the hospital, my breasts were hot and engorged and within days my nipples were bleeding. I got a shield and used it for the next five weeks. My nipples never toughened or stopped bleeding. I am very fair and have small nipples. My son wasnt getting enough milk and I wasnt enjoying the experience at all.

His resistance dropped and he developed a bronchial infection and was hospitalized at 5 weeks when I began to supplement feedings and totally stopped breast feeding.

When I birthed my second I went right to formula. I never felt guilty in the least and I actually enjoyed the first weeks with him.
Some tried to make me feel like I was a failure. I wasnt.
I did what was best for both of us.
Enduring pain does not make you a better mother.
Justine

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S.O.

answers from Philadelphia on

I used nipple shields in the beginning for my son and then for my twins. It helped my son and one of the twins, who were having difficulty latching on, get the hang of it, but I do agree that you will need to ditch it before too much time goes by. The only thing about that is that I think it sort of happens naturally. You just won't need it soon. It is dreadfully painful to nurse in the beginning, but as much as you feel like you won't be able to do it anymore, it does get easier! You can imagine what it felt like with two of 'em!

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K.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

This may not be the response you want to hear.......but..... I just went through the nipple shield mess and got all different advice from different lactation consultents..... but.... I used the shield up until 8 weeks when my milk supply went down (due to the nipple shield) and my "little guy" wasn't getting enough to eat...so.... I had to go cold turkey and stop using the nipple shield at 8 weeks.... it was a rough week.....it was like starting breastfeeding all over again..... but once we got through it things were much better!! Breastfeeding isn't easy for everyone and I had someone advise me to continue until 12 weeks and after that it would be easy.... and really it was!!! Anyway-- my advice to you would be to try to wean yourself and your baby off the nipple shield as soon as you can so that you don't end up enduring all the issues I had and it will make things much better in the long run and easier..... I hated getting that shield on late at night!!! Good Luck and it will get better!!!

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