Nipple Shield or Not a Nipple Shield: That is the Question

When Ruby did nurse for the first six months of her life, she did so using a nipple shield. She foiled my every attempt to get her off of it. She just would not nurse without one.

I am still finger feeding her, using the Medela SNS (*shudder*) but I’m wanting to move on. I’m thinking about trying the nipple shield again (*double shudder*).

In the last few days, I have had a few successful attempts at getting Ruby to the breast. She would only “nurse” for a few moments. During those moments of “nursing” she didn’t really nurse (thus the quotation marks). She would aimlessly move her tongue around my nipple, close her mouth then reopen it, swallow the milk I was pouring into her mouth via the SNS, then finally give up and let go.

I’m wondering if maybe it’s because there isn’t as much form to the nipple as there is to a bottle, a nipple shield, or even my finger.

My original plan to get her back to the breast did not include a nipple shield. I wanted to avoid the horrid thing like the plague. My thought process here is this, “If I’m going to work this hard to get Ruby back to the breast, then it’s going to be the BREAST and not a nipple shield.”

But if using a nipple shield will get her back to the breast when not using one won’t, then should I go for it? Or give it more time trying without one?

These are hard decisions to make. If I make the wrong decision here, I fear major setbacks or failure to get back to the breast. So what do you all think? I am particularly interested in the opinions of those who have experienced similar problems as me or are Lactation Consultants.

Do you all think I should use a nipple shield or not use a nipple shield?

That is the question.


5 responses

  1. I was devastated when I was told I would probably need to use the shield long term with little one #2 as it was not my idea of “real nursing” so to speak and I saw it as a failure. After that appointment with the pediatrician when I was given tons of instructions to help things get to as good as they could and given realistic expectations I promptly emailed my LC telling her what happened and how I was feeling like a total failure of a nursing mom. I may have told you what she said but I think it’s relevant yet again. She told me success is whatever works for feeding your baby and if that meant long term shield use for me and baby then that was success. I was still feeding him and feeding him at the breast with MY milk. It wasn’t “ideal” by any stretch of the imagination but it was what worked for us and if that’s what works for Ruby then that is success! Success doesn’t always look like how we want it to look like but success is success and a nipple shield can be what brings success. I’d try it (despite how much of a pain they are) and if it works then that is wonderful!

  2. There are no wrong decisions. You know mothering is most about intuition and there is no science to these choices. There is never the path you do not take, only the one you do. I suggest you take it fearlessly and just keep taking the next step as it presents itself–you cannot possibly anticipate anyway. Think of it this way–before you had a baby who wasn’t thriving on a shield–if she takes it now–you will have a healthy, growing baby on the shield–that’s enormous progress!!!

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