Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Use a Nipple Shield - Our Breastfeeding Journey

I have flat, sometimes inverted nipples. I was told that when I got pregnant, they would "self-correct" as if there were something wrong with them. I was told that when I gave birth, they would "self-correct" as if pushing a human out of my vagina would also cause my nipples to pop out (I don't know, maybe the pressure?). I was told that as soon as we started to breastfeed, they would "self-correct" as if me pulling on those suckers day and night since puberty in attempt to stretch them into "normalcy" was going to be bested by one day with a newborn. None of this was true, of course. My nipples are what my nipples are. They pop out when I'm cold, when I sneeze (I have no idea why, but it's true every time), and when I orgasm. Otherwise, they're either flat or innies.

I used to be incredibly self-conscious about my nipples. I would see other girls with "normal" nipples like the ones I'd see in movies. I would make sure never to be topless in front of other girls. Clearly, I was a freak. This even made it difficult to be intimate with men once I got to that point. I was sure they would abhor my hideous nipples. I couldn't have been more wrong.

One thing I wasn't wrong about was that the state of my nipples made breastfeeding difficult. This had been a concern of mine that everyone dismissed since long before I ever got pregnant. This was my first lesson in listening to my parenting gut.

When my son was born, we immediately tried breastfeeding and immediately struggled. He did the breast crawl (coolest thing ever), he tried and tried, but it wasn't happening. The post-partum nurse kept telling me I had to supplement. I kept refusing. This went on for hours and hours. I began to get very concerned. My son wasn't eating. I summoned the hospital's lactation consultant. She was terrible. She shoved his face into my boob while he screamed and struggled over and over until I, on the verge of tears, finally made her stop. She then turned around and walked out. That was it. We were, once again, on our own. That night, we called the IBCLC at our midwife's office and made an appointment for her to come help us the next day. Until then, we were still alone and our son was still not eating. Out of sheer desperation and terror, we supplemented. He ate like crazy. It was bittersweet. I knew the complications I was creating, but I had no other option as far as I could tell and certainly no support. The next day, the IBCLC came and helped us with a nipple shield. Suddenly, the clouds parted. Hallelujah. Success.

My son has been breastfeeding successfully ever since. It'll be three years in October. He'll continue to breastfeed until he wishes to stop. We were never able to wean off of the nipple shield. It's a minor inconvenience, but nothing in comparison to all the good that is our time breastfeeding. I have had mastitis a couple times and a few blebs, also complications of using a nipple shield. Neither are ideal, but both are very treatable and, again, minor inconveniences in comparison to what we have going on here.

Let me say it again, my son has been breastfeeding successfully for nearly three years thanks to the use of a nipple shield. It's not ideal. I'm not recommending it for everyone who struggles. (I am, however, recommending a good IBCLC for anyone who struggles and as soon as those struggles crop up.) If it comes down to breastfeeding with a nipple shield or not breastfeeding at all, I'll go with the shield every time.

For more information on nipple shield pros and cons see Kelly Mom's article on it by clicking here.

8 comments:

  1. There are some nurses and ibclc who are so against sheilds it's insane. It's a tool. A very useful tool sometimes and sadly an over used one sometimes. I have used one. I had very flat nipple as well. I was told that the she old was a 3 day thing. 3 months later I was able to finally wean her off. You, zen-mama, rock. Zen-babe appreciates it I'm sure :-) (I always suggest storing it in the woman's bra. Warm, smells like mom-stink, and you can find the dang thing when you need it. Any suggestions for the other nudist mama's out there??)

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    1. I have one near the couch, one on the bed, one in the car, and one at my parents' place. When I'm out, I do keep mine in my bra - it's the perfect place!

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  2. I <3 this post. You are truly an inspiration.

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    1. Wow, thank you, Kristie. That really means a lot to me. I was a little nervous about the response I'd get.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this. I'm sure this is what some moms out there need to hear. I didn't need a nipple shield but if I had to use one coz' it works, why not.
    This is inspirational so I have linked back to you in my post about breastfeeding tips.
    http://www.babyhelptips.com/359/moms-share-their-breastfeeding-tips/

    If you have time, drop by to say hi.

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  4. Until just this moment I had no idea that my "flat nipples" could have been a contributing factor to my difficulties breastfeeding! I tried so many things and talked to so many people and no help was found! Finally I did what you did and I supplemented. Which of course lead to me ending my breastfeeding connection with my boys earlier than I ever intended. My youngest is 5 now so those days are long gone but I wish I had known. I hope this article helps out many others who struggle with this and end up with the answer you got!

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    1. I hope so, too, Camielle. I hope so, too. <3

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  5. Thanks for sharing! Nice post!
    Các mẹ lo lắng vì mỡ bụng thì xem cách cách giảm mỡ bụng sau sinh hiệu quả nhất cực hiệu quả, khi các mẹ bầu bị cảm thì tham khảo mẹo chữa cảm cúm cho bà bầu hiệu quả hay phòng bệnh cảm cúm cho bà bầu cực hiệu quả hay bà bầu có xông được không mà các mẹ bầu nên biết, giải trí với những câu đố hại não nhất có đáp án cực thú vị, nằm mơ thấy máu thì tham khảo giải mã giấc mơ thấy máu mang đến điềm báo gì, bật mí cách làm cơm cari Nhật Bản thơm ngon, giải đáp thắc mắc lắc vòng có to mông không hay uống nước ngọt nhiều có bị sao không tại uống nước ngọt nhiều có bị tiểu đường không hay khi bạn hóc xương cá thì làm sao tại cách chữa hóc xương cá hiệu quả nhất tại nhà.

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