Tag Archives: nipple shield

How I Ditched the Nipple Shield

22 Mar

As I sit here typing while nursing my son, I think back to just a few short weeks ago at how hard it once was for both me and him. On December 27 my son was born at 7 lbs 12 oz, and was just amazingly beautiful. I held my son to my chest shortly after birth and he suckled for a few short moments then fell asleep. After he returned to me, I kept trying to latch him and he just flat out refused. The nurse came in and tried to help, but she could not get him to latch either.

Before I left the hospital I had to do a New Mom class, in which they asked if you were going to breastfeed, bottlefeed, or both. Out of the seven new mommies, I was the only one who wanted to breastfeed. The nurse told me after I returned to my room that an LC would come in to make sure everything was going okay. That was such a relief to me, because he was not getting the hang of it. She came in a little later, took my son from me, undressed him and shoved him on my boob – which to a first time mom scared the crap out of me! She messed with his little mouth for a few minutes around my nipple and told me he was not a strong enough sucker. To my disbelief, the person who was supposed to help me just broke my heart. I looked at her and asked her what to do, and she said, “Well, you can just keep trying, but you probably should just give him formula to make sure he keeps eating.” FORMULA? Seriously – this coming from an LC. I said okay thank you, and promptly forgot everything she just told me.

As I was worrying about my son not eating, my MIL sat down next to me and reassured me everything was going to be okay. She asked if she could help and I agreed so she took my son in her arms, and was slowly able to latch him on. She did not force my boob in his mouth, or make him scream by undressing him, she simply put him on my chest and let him do it on his own. He was doing it- I was so relieved, yet he again stopped a few moments later. She reassured me everything would turn out okay, and that he probably was not yet hungry anyway.

During my hospital stay I continued to try to get him to latch without success, so when I returned home I was pumping what seemed like every waking moment, and fed him by bottle. We were both in tears almost every night. Then, I came across one of the best groups in the world – Breastfeed, Chicago. A friend of mine who has a little girl only a few weeks younger then my son was part of the group, so I figured it would just give me some added support. I posted what issues I was having and someone suggested a nipple shield. I was confused and a little scared on what that was, and had some awkward images in my head. Yet, I went to Target and found one. We went home, I completely undressed from the waist up, and I was determined for him to figure it out. I placed the nipple shield on and slowly tried to get him to latch, but he still refused.

I continued to pump about 8 times a day, if not more, and tried at least once daily to get him to latch. I would pump for a few minutes to get my milk flowing, so it was not much work for him, tried to latch him, and when that did not work, I would try with the shield. It seemed like he would never figure it out, and I started getting very depressed. I felt like I was not supplying my son with his nutritional needs. My husband came home from work many times to me and our son half naked in our bed, both crying – and me, desperately trying to get him to eat. My husband was such a trooper and would take our son from me, remind me that I was an amazing mother, and would walk away, letting me gather myself together. I started talking about switching to formula because I simply had had enough. I told my husband that if our son didn’t figure out breastfeeding by the time he was 3 months, I was done. I was reading parenting books, talking to other nursing moms that I knew, and would check Breastfeed, Chicago daily. Looking for tips and tricks to get him to latch.

After 11 weeks of trying, my son finally latched with the shield – yet I tried not to get too excited. After 24 hours passed and he still hadn’t needed a bottle, I was officially ecstatic – enough so to call my MIL and my own mom to tell them the amazing news. Yes, he was still using a shield, but he was latching! That meant the world to me. After 6 days of using the shield I was going nuts – trying to remember to take it with me, trying to place it on my nipple when I was half asleep – the thing that made breastfeeding possible for us was starting to wear on me. So, I placed him to my bare nipple, and to my surprise, he latched! I sent a picture to my husband at work, and of course posted on Breastfeed, Chicago almost immediately. Now, a week later, I sit here typing with my son lying across my chest, boob in his hand, eating away. I never though this day would come. I ended up in tears many nights, regretted having to give him a bottle, hating with a passion being confined to the house due to having to pump so often… yet now everything seemed so worth it. Just to simply say I breastfeed my child!

I joke that my son figured out breastfeeding just so he could avoid formula. He and I were determined to make him a boob boy!

I hope you have found this inspiring, and know that to be able to breastfeed your child may not be the easiest thing you will ever do, but is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

My name is Diane and I can proudly now say I am a breastfeeding, baby-wearing, cloth diapering mom. I am 21 years old and married to the love of my life, Tyler, and we have one son named James. I have my nursing degree, although that is on pause so I can be a SAHM. My husband is a video game programmer in the city of Chicago. My only goal for my son is to grow up happy and healthy and for us to be able to provide him whatever he wants/needs. However, if you ask his daddy, he would say he wants James to be able to program before he can read!

Editor’s Note: Before you resort to using a nipple shield for yourself, please make sure to talk to a knowledgeable and supportive lactation professional, and read up on all the pros and cons of nipple shields. Find out more here.

The Self-Proclaimed Breastfeeding Educationist, A Non-Activist

15 Aug

ac-tiv-ist (ak-tuh-vist) nounan especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause

Corry as a "mommie"

educationist (ej-oo-key-shuh-nist) noun a specialist in the theory and methods of education

By the time I got home from the hospital with my son, I felt betrayed by my body in more ways than I could count: a metabolic disorder making getting pregnant difficult, a high-risk pregnancy, a 26-hour delivery, and to top it all off… a pair of flat nipples which a nurse handily “fixed” with nipple shields. I had been practicing for motherhood all my life, and there I was, devastated, frustrated and exhausted.

Eight weeks later, I was an under-nourished, overly-tired, emotionally-distraught mother who has grown to loath the physical act of breastfeeding. The nipple shield made public nursing impossible, so I began to express milk and bottlefeed my little man. I never gave up on my ideal of motherhood; I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I found a Friday-night breastfeeding support group at Cygnus Lactation led by Nancy Mohrbacher (IBCLC; co-author of Breastfeeding Made Simple and author of Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple). Inspired by the wonderful women present, I shared my experience. They referred me to an IBCLC who came in to see me Sunday morning. Within 10 minutes, my son was latched and sucking away. My postpartum depression quickly passed. I felt totally empowered, and I was ready to tell the world that if I could do it, anyone could!

My motive was pure, but my approach, well, it needed a lot of help.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. As I think back, I cannot think of one single time that I spoke, lectured, or preached about breastfeeding with the wrong attitude, but they all seem to flood together into a montage of Oops! moments. The usual response to my effusions was a glazed-over look that screamed Leave me alone!

I started to think about my own response to others telling me what was best for me and my family. My first instinct is the same as theirs. How dare you tell me what to do!?! Then a flurry of justifications for my choice would flood my mind, clouding everything. Moms don’t like to be told what to do. Period.

I decided I needed to change my strategy. I found that detaching from the other person’s choices and beliefs (I even have a mantra, if you want to hear it) made me more open and thus more approachable.

When sharing my experience, I started to pay attention to the other person’s body language. I started asking questions and really listening to the answers. I found that people were more inclined to listen when they felt like they were being heard. Moral of the story: When you show respect, people allow you in. So began my career as an educationist.

Timing. On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a church group that chose to picket funerals of fallen soldiers, protesting gays in the military. The Washington Post commented: “The court’s most liberal and most conservative justices joined in a decision likely to define the term. It writes a new chapter in the court’s findings that freedom of speech is so central to the nation that it protects cruel and unpopular protests – even, in this case, at the moment of a family’s most profound grief.” Regardless of our opinion of a person’s sexual preference or involvement in war and military combat, our hearts grieved for those families.

There is a powerful lesson in this experience: Whether the subject is protected by law or not, when we choose to approach a topic will directly affect how it is received. Timing is everything. In discussing “taboo” topics like breastfeeding, it is so important to consider the listener and those present. For example, never offer breastfeeding or parenting advice when the mother-in-law is present. More than likely, mommy already feels inadequate when MIL is around.

Consider her feelings. With a long history of sexual abuse, I have a lot of baggage. I have grown close to many other mommies who can relate personally, so when someone says that she will never breastfeed, I know that she is most likely also a survivor.

When a mom pushes back against my offers of advice or help, I always consider several factors. Mom may have a history of physical or sexual abuse. She may have been taught that there is no difference between breastfeeding and supplementation. She may have been booby trapped by scary stories and misinformation from medical professionals, celebrities, or other parents. She may suffer from a medical condition that honestly requires medication not compatible with breastfeeding. Even if none of these is the case, she still has the right to her choice. Again, step back, offer your help, and if she says no, let it go.

Be Prepared. Prepare your approach to pregnant friends. Instead of barraging them with the fine details of how breastfeeding will save the world, use phrases like, “I’m here to help if you’re interested in learning more about breastfeeeding,” or, “There are lots of pregnant women at my breastfeeding support group, so you know you’re always welcome.” For shower gifts, I buy a gift certificate for personal help from an IBCLC that can be used for long-term assistance. I know that mine included as many follow-ups as necessary, which were giant confidence boosters.

After you’ve figured out what she is inclined to hear, share a personal, positive experience. My favorite story was when my 2 year old needed to have a catheter inserted, and I informed the nurses that I would nurse him during the procedure. They were apprehensive, but I explained that breastfeeding would reduce the pain. Besides a few whimpers, he laid still enough for them to complete the procedure. The nurses had never seen anything like it before.

Prepare to react to unfriendly comments while nursing in public. I highly recommend rehearsing this with a friend in advance. The manager approaches to ask you to cover up or to go to the bathroom. Instead of berating the manager (who is likely unfamiliar with the law or has been pressured by the customers), kindly explain that you will be done shortly. Let them leave. When you have finished, take a deep breath, and politely ask to speak to the manager. Explain that you understand their concern, but you were not intending to create a scene, simply to nourish your child. Ask, “Do you know why I choose to breastfeed, even when I know that others may become uncomfortable?” Then share a few easy-to-remember reasons, and give them a copy of the Illinois breastfeeding law. If the manager is irate, request that they call the police. In the unlikely event the police are called, they are very familiar with the laws protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.

By being prepared with thought-out answers and acting in a considerate manner, our not-yet-breastfeeding-allies will become more compliant and supportive. After all, if they knew how awesome breastfeeding is, they wouldn’t dare attack it!

I’m coining a new term: Breastucation (breastfeeding + education). We can change the breastfeeding culture in Chicago with a little listening, empathy and gentle education.

Corry has been contentedly married for 8 years and is mother to an almost 3-year-old son who was breastfed for the first 28 months of his life, despite flat nipples, food allergies and two rare medical conditions. She owns and operates Clean Green Nappy diaper service in Ingleside, IL, manages the accounting department of her husband’s business, plays with Thomas & Friends, loves to scrapbook, and is a volunteer minister who occasionally sleeps through the night.


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