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Old 10-16-2012, 08:57 AM   #1
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Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

My sister-in-law has a 4 week old baby girl that she is bf'ing. From the very beginning this has been a difficult experience for her. Her main struggle has been getting baby to calm down and latch properly. When her daughter was about 5 days she was taken to the hospital because she was dehydrated and her jaundice wasn't going away. This was due to her having difficulty latching and staying on the breast. While at the hospital the lactation consultant gave her a nipple shield to use. Now she's still finding it difficult to get her daughter to be calm at the breast, plus she's really struggling with getting her daughter to wean from the nipple shield. The baby freaks out when the nipple shield isn't there. On top of all that, the baby will sleep sometimes for 5-6 hour stretches during the day and sometimes even 8 hour stretches at night and will wake up dry. My sister-in-law is really worried her baby isn't getting enough and she notices sore lumps in her breasts so they're not being emptied properly. She's also pumping in between, and she wonders whether she's over producing now.

Sorry about the book but I just thought if anyone could offer some advice she would REALLY appreciate it! She is NOT enjoying bf'ing right now. I tried giving advice but I had an easy time bf'ing so I don't know what to say. THANKS!

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Old 10-16-2012, 11:00 AM   #2
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

She could be over producing from the pumping. I had to use shields for various reasons in the beginning with all three of mine and never had to pump to maintain a supply. She should check with an LC though to asses her particular situation, because some do have to pump when using a shield. I weaned my youngest from it somewhere between 6-8 weeks and it didn't happen over night. It was gradual. I concentrated on day feeds first and then once we had that down, it was easier to drop the shield at night. I guess the best advice I can give is just to take it one feed/day at a time. The first six to eight weeks are generally the hardest and it tends to get much easier from there. Good luck to her.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:01 PM   #3
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

i agree with checking with a LC to see if she can't get some help with her latch. also, if i were her, and the baby is still not latching well and is fussing at the breast, don't worry about weaning from the nipple shield yet! let it go. focus on getting the baby to the breast and feeding right now. she can always wean from the nipple shield later. i know there's a lot of hate towards nipple shields in the bfing community, but i think, if they help, then they can't be a bad thing. i know several people who used them. none had supply issues. one of them used it the entire year she bf'd because she never could get her son off of it. maybe it's not ideal, but it's not horrible either. so if i were her, i would not stress about that right now.

my other question is, why is the baby so frantic everytime she's put to the breast? it may be a good idea to make sure that your sil is offering the breast at the first signs of hunger, before the baby gets frantic. if you wait until the baby is screaming and freaking out, then yes, it's hard for a young baby, and new mom to calm down and get started nursing. everyone should be calm. it will make a world of difference.

i know with my babies, especially my son who was a very frantic/constant nurser, he would get so worked up and just scream and scream if i waited too long. also, both went through periods where something would go "wrong" and then i would get all tense and stressed, and suddenly the baby starts freaking everytime i try to nurse them. my dd went a whole week when she was 3-4 weeks old where she completely refused to even try to latch on the right breast. she just freaked every time. now she nurses fine and that breast is my biggest producer they just feed off of mom's emotions.

finally, 4 weeks is really early, just encourage her to stick it out and that it will get better! both times, the first 6-8 weeks were extremely difficult for me. my babies always latched on and nursed ok, and gained ok, but with my son's tongue tie, extreme nipple pain, and several bouts of mastitis (i seem to be particularly prone to it, but only in the begining, once my supply levels off, i never get it again) i wanted to quit sooo many times. if she just waits another month or so though, she will find that it is 100% easier!

Last edited by Liadan23; 10-16-2012 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

I have some similar problems right now with my 1 week old and before w/ my 2 year old. I have a few suggestions from my experience w/ my toddler, but take it all with a grain of salt, and it might seem silly too...

1. She needs to eat more often - by that I mean, wake her up to nurse. Right now w/ my little one, if it's more than 2 hours in between sessions she panics and takes like 20 minutes to be able to latch, but if it's less than 2 hours in between she latches just fine. So it may be that she is just too hungry?

2. I have used the nipple shield to start nursing, then once the nipple is pulled into a more useful shape, taken off the shield and re-latched. This took a lot of practice, but I think it helped.

3. I tried pumping for a minute or 2 right before nursing to help the nipple be in a shape that made it easier for latching - along the same line, they make something to help pull the nipple out more. I can't remember what it's called -a shell?? It's shaped like a donut and sticks onto the boob around the nipple. I wore it for like 15 minutes before nursing each time.

I used a combination of these, and eventually managed to get DS to nurse on his own, and we kept it up till 13 months.

I hope this helps!!
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:37 PM   #5
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

Thanks for the advice! I do think, as some of you have mentioned, that she was waiting too long to nurse. Her baby is a particularly sleepy one and will go for about 5-6 hours straight during the day and she told me that recently she slept 8 hours at night. It seems like that might be a little young for those kind of sleep patterns. Also when she tries to nurse after long sleeps she a little frantic. Also I'm wondering if my SIL's not relaxed enough and maybe her milk let-down is affected by this. I'll try giving her some of your pointers though!
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:40 PM   #6
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

Only advice I have is to not stress about the shield. If it's working, keep using it. Sounds like baby is not ready to wean from it. Mine used it for about 8 weeks.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 AM   #7
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

She says that for the time being nursing on a schedule works better than on demand so I told her that she should stick with that then. I will also tell her that if she works best with the nipple shield she should stick with that. I've tried telling her to relax more but I think because the experience so far has not been good, she has trouble relaxing and getting really comfortable with bf'ing. She spoke with her LC yesterday, so I'm waiting to hear what they said.
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:03 AM   #8
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I didnt read through all the replies, but with my dd, i would start the feeding off with the shield, then once i let down and she was less frantic i would take her off real fast, pull off the shield and put her right back on. Eventually she got to where she thinks could latch without it.
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by MIpiccolo44
I have some similar problems right now with my 1 week old and before w/ my 2 year old. I have a few suggestions from my experience w/ my toddler, but take it all with a grain of salt, and it might seem silly too...

1. She needs to eat more often - by that I mean, wake her up to nurse. Right now w/ my little one, if it's more than 2 hours in between sessions she panics and takes like 20 minutes to be able to latch, but if it's less than 2 hours in between she latches just fine. So it may be that she is just too hungry?

2. I have used the nipple shield to start nursing, then once the nipple is pulled into a more useful shape, taken off the shield and re-latched. This took a lot of practice, but I think it helped.

3. I tried pumping for a minute or 2 right before nursing to help the nipple be in a shape that made it easier for latching - along the same line, they make something to help pull the nipple out more. I can't remember what it's called -a shell?? It's shaped like a donut and sticks onto the boob around the nipple. I wore it for like 15 minutes before nursing each time.

I used a combination of these, and eventually managed to get DS to nurse on his own, and we kept it up till 13 months.

I hope this helps!!
This is excellent advice and almost exactly what I was going to say! I used a nipple shield with DS in the beginning because he was tongue tied and would get SO frustrated by not being able to latch/draw out milk. I was also pumping in between feedings to supplement because he lost so much weight.

I would use the nipple shield until let down - that way he got a little taste of milk, calmed down a bit, and we weren't *completely* reliant on the shield to feed. Within a week or two, he had gotten the hang of "re-latching" well enough and I was healed enough that we didn't need it at all. (then shortly thereafter his tongue was clipped, thank God). We also had a lot of luck nursing after I had pumped for a bit - and that had the added benefit of giving him more fatty hindmilk during a feeding.

Waking the baby up sounds like a good idea - even if it's just five minutes before her regular wake time, or just as she's starting to stir. 5-6 hours during the day is a LONG time between feedings.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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Re: Weaning from the Nipple Shield-Help

I went through the same thing. I was told in the hospital that I have flat nipples, and was given a nipple shield. But, more recently I was told by another LC that my nipples aren't really that flat. I think the LC's in the hospital were just too lazy to repeatedly help me get DS to latch properly. Long story short, we dealt with failure to gain weight, tons of fussy feeds, sleepy feeds, pumping, supplementing with both breast milk and formula, tried finger feeding and bottle feeding, all of the above. At one point I sort of gave up and started exclusively pumping during the day and feeding with the shield at night, since I think my supply went down since DS wasn't effectively emptying my breasts. We bought a scale to weigh before/after every feed (DH and I are both engineers), and figured out he was taking 2 hours to drink 2 ounces. I could pump more than that in 20 minutes! I'd tried feeding without the shield periodically, but it wasn't working for the longest time! Now DS is 3.5 months old and recently went off the shield last week. The key was to pick a time when I was rested and calm, and had a lot of milk. One day, at the 6 am feeding when my breasts were nice and full (I don't get super engorged because I get up to pump at 2-3 am) I tried it. I fed him with the shield on one side (my right side, which is the smaller and less comfortable side since I'm right handed) so he wasn't super starving and frantic, then tried without the shield on the left side. He fussed the first few attempts, and I almost gave up, but then the stars aligned. He opened his mouth, I shoved it in there, he paused, reluctantly gave a couple sucks, then I think milk came out because he got this surprised look on his face and started vigorously sucking and swallowing. Ever since that moment, he latches on like a champ! The only down side is that I get super sore now, but it's gradually getting better. Keep trying, and eventually it'll happen!
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