113. Weaning Off A Nipple Shield with guest Lex from Breezy Babies
Nipple shields can be a helpful tool in lactation journeys that often need to come to an end. If you're tired of fumbling for your shield in the middle of the night, always needing to keep it clean, or not forgetting it when you leave the house, then this episode is for you! Let's talk about how to get rid of the nipple shield and back to the bare breast.
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Full Podcast Transcript:
Welcome to the Breezy Babies Podcast, where we talk about all things boobs, babies, and breastfeeding. This is episode 113. Weaning off a nipple shield. I'm brie the IBCLC, and I made brisbies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life in every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey, welcome back for another great podcast episode today, and you might be excited to hear that I have another guest schedule today. Is that kind of nice? I mean, I would just guess that sometimes it's nice to have a little bit of a break from the sound of my voice. I don't know, I feel like I would get definitely a little sick of hearing my voice all the time. So no worries. Today's your lucky day. I have another great guest lined up for you today. She's going to be very familiar because it is Lex who is on my team. She's also an IBC LC. She lives in northern Utah, and I love having her on my team. She is an amazing asset, so you're going to love learning from her. And today we're talking about weaning off a nipple shield. This has been a really requested topic lately, so I thought, oh, my gosh, we need a podcast episode about this because I refer not only clients but just everyone to my podcast episodes all the time. Sometimes it's really overwhelming with the amount of direct messages I receive, emails even just keeping up with all my clients. And so I love having podcast episodes that I can refer to when someone needs to dive deep on a specific topic but isn't able to do a full one on one consult with me. Now we'll have one about weaning off nipple shields. So I'm so excited. And I just want to start by saying that nipple shields are not inherently bad. Let's just get that off the table right now because sometimes we have this perception that they are bad. I have clients all the time. They're like, oh, I'm still using a nipple shield. Please don't judge me. We're trying to get rid of it. Okay, let's just take all the shame and all the judging out of it right now because I have seen nibble shields both save breastfeeding relationships, and I have also seen them throw a major roadblock into lactation journeys when they were introduced too early or without good reason. So if you're listening to this and you're already using a nipple shield, even if it was introduced without a good reason, again, let's just start by taking all the guilt out of it. Don't feel bad or embarrassed about using a shield. Also, you don't have to feel like you need to wean off of it right away. If it's serving you well, then use it. And if it's no longer serving you, then let's work to get rid of it. If you're wondering what it means to not be serving you any longer, here are some examples of things that I often see, and Lex will talk about these as well. So you may want to wean off the nipple shield if, number one, you're sick of needing it to have close by and keeping it clean, number two, if it's taking away the convenience of breastfeeding, number three, if you're getting recurrent clogged ducts or mastitis or milk blubs, or number four, if your baby just no longer seems to like it. Now, again, Lex is going to go into more details on that. So I will leave it to her. But before we jump in and turn the time over to Lex, I want to read a review for you. This is from Jennifer, and Jennifer left a five star review on Google and I chose this review for a good reason and you'll find it out. Find out what that reason is very shortly. Let me read it to you. The review says, Alexis was wonderful. She listened to my needs and helped give me tips to make my breastfeeding journey easier. So you can see why I chose that review because it's all about Lex and how amazing she is and what good work she does. She helps cover in person consultations and she also does telehealth consultations. And if you're approved for free consults through Lactation Network, you can bounce between me and Lex for consultations. We both are under the same exact coverage. And if you're wondering if you can get free consultations, you can always go over to Breezybabies.com. Whether you click on in person or tell help, there's a link where you can check for free consultations through Lactation Network or there's always a link in the show notes as well. So I seriously love having Lex on my team. I love that she can help share on this podcast as well, especially now that she is back from maternity leave. So I am going to turn the time over to Lex. She's going to tell you about her top tips for weaning off a nipple shield. Here we go. Hello, everyone. Lex here today your IBCLC with the Breezy babies team. Today I want to talk about how to wean off a nipple shield. Now, this is a topic that is for sure near and dear to my heart because as a breastfeeding mom, I have been there. I've been in the thick of using a nipple shield and then trying to navigate winning your baby off of the shield. I also have experience in the clinical setting, working with clients to help them with this as well. First off, what is a nipple shield? So this is a silicone covering that goes over your nipple to help your baby with latching issues. They are meant to be a temporary tool to help with breastfeeding. If you find yourself using one of these, it's important to work closely with an IBC LLC so that they can help make sure that latch is correct with that shield, assess the supply as well as help with any other issues. Some other reasons the shield may be used is if you have a Nicky baby, sometimes it helps bring a baby that's been used to a lot of bottles back to the breasts, or if a mom has really damaged nipples and still needs to continue to breastfeed, but just kind of needs to give those nipples a break to heal, that can help. Or if a patient has some nipples that are a little more flat, that can help pull that nipple out and help that baby latch on. So you may find information online as well as even different opinions about nipple shields between lactation consultants. However, in my experience, when they are used correctly, they have been great tools that can help save breastfeeding. As with most things, there are pros and cons to using it. One of the consequences is your baby gets used to it and then needs to be weaned off of it and brought back to learning how to latch on your natural nipple. I know it can definitely be frustrating at times when you use a shield. It can get harder as your baby gets older and is more active and wiggly. You get your shield positioned on your nipple just perfect and your baby's moving around as you're trying to latch and it gets knocked off. And then you have to kind of start the process all over. Or sometimes your baby is nursing and then pulls off and that nipple shield was full of milk and all that milk,
sorry, gets spilled all down your shirt or your belly. If you are using a nipple shield, I know you totally know what these scenarios are like and it can for sure be frustrating. It can also be stressful to kind of always be worried about where's your shield? Do you have an extra one with you? Is it clean? Did your dog eat it? Just always kind of worrying about where that shield is, but like I said, it comes with positives as well. It can be a great tool to help save or start breastfeeding. But with that being said, my first tip of your journey of winning your baby off the shield is first off, try not to stress about the timeline of how long it takes. If the shield is working for you and your baby, your supply is good and everything else is going good, that's fine. Do whatever works for you and try not to stress it. However, if you are working on weaning your baby off of it, try to be patient and not stress. I know, that can be easier said than done, but it may take a day, a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. Just try to be patient and however long it's taking, you know, that that's okay. When I was trying to win my baby off of the shield, I would try and she would not latch without it. So I would take a break and she still just would not do it at all. I would do all the tricks that I'll kind of talk about in a minute here, but I just found myself getting kind of frustrated that I would keep trying and she just would not take it when I was doing everything right, so to speak. By this time, my baby was about five or six months old, just that typical distracted nurser. And I had honestly kind of given up for a couple weeks as well. But my baby was about that old. And then one night, I remember I totally remember this memory because I just look back now and I think it's so funny that it happened. But one night I was over at my sister's house, there was a family gathering and I was just kind of on a more quiet corner of the couch, nursing my baby under a blanket, trying to keep her quiet and not distracted by everything that was going on in the house. And I just had her on there. She was nursing. She just pulled off and pulled that nipple shield off and then latched on to my breast and then kept nursing. I remember I just kind of froze because I didn't want to distract her and bring attention to what just happened. And I was also a little bit shocked because literally the week before, I had tried and she would not have it. She just was getting frustrated and would not nurse without that shield. And then here I am a week later, she grabs it off and latches. I know that story sounds kind of crazy, but it totally happened and I just was shocked. So hopefully that little story kind of gives you a little bit of hope to not stress it and know that it can take some time or your baby may catch on really quick too. But whatever happens, try to be calm and patient about it and not worry about how long it may take. That kind of leads me to my next tip of let your baby lead the way. Like I said, I had tried and my baby just was not having it. If you are trying to take that shield off during a feed and your baby is just getting frustrated and more mad and then that's stressing you out, kind of read the room, so to speak. Let your baby lead the way. He or she is telling you, not today, Mum. That's okay. You can kind of try it and push them a little bit, but let them lead the way, they will for sure tell you what is working and what is not. So what are these tricks that you can do to kind of help encourage your baby in the direction of latching onto your nipple without that shield? So, my first kind of little trick you can try with them is if you can do skin to skin before that feeding, do skin to skin for a couple of days even leading up to it. That is one of those things that always seems to help with latching issues. It just kind of brings your baby back down to the basics and may kind of set them up to be more calm and willing to try that without that shield. Another tip is you can start the feeding with the shield and then kind of rolling back a little bit, hurry and slip that shield off and then try to latch them without it. Sometimes if you're fast and smooth, your baby might not notice the transition. Also kind of doing that in the middle of the feeding, your nipple has already pulled out and a little more firm, most likely like that shield. And then another tip that you can try is to try to latch your baby without that shield. When they are sleepy. If it's like a middle of the night feeding and they're a little more tired, they might latch on and just be definitely okay to nurse without that shield. So just kind of try those little couple tricks and it may help that skin to skin, you can start the feeding with the shield and then slip it off or try when they are really sleepy. But remember, like all babies are different and what you try one day might work and the next day maybe not. So let your baby lead the way. They will kind of tell you what is working for them and also be patient. So those are my few tips to help you with winning your baby off of the nipple shield. Again, if it's one of those things that's working for you and everything else is going okay, don't stress about the nipple shield use. If you're getting really frustrated with it and you need your baby off of it, definitely try those tricks and hopefully that can help you. Yeah. So there you have it. So good. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise on weaning off a nipple shield. And isn't it so nice to hear this and know that you are not alone. You are not alone in your breastfeeding struggles. Lex and I, we both see the same common themes over and over again. And overall, moms are dealing with the exact same lactation struggles, even no matter where they live, not only in the United States, but also in the entire world. I have consulted with families even halfway across the world, not even just within the United States, and they are dealing with the same lactation problems that you are no matter where you live. And I just think it's so comforting to know that you are not in this alone. You definitely don't have to walk this journey alone. There is always help available and we would love to help you whether you're covered by insurance or self pay. We love you just the same. So thank you again so much for listening in to this podcast episode. It means the world to a small business like ours and if you leave a podcast episode review or even just a Google review, we would love to send you something for free, one of our digital downloads, totally free. So Jennifer, I forgot to say this at the beginning of the podcast episode, but if you are listening to this and you heard that I read your review, you can send me an email brie at brizybabies and I would love to send you one of my digital reviews for completely free. And I'll do the same for any of you listening because leaving a review is such an easy and simple way to help a small business this but it really packs a huge punch. So we so appreciate it. Of course I'm going to leave you with you are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful and I can't wait to talk with you again next week. Have a good one. Bye.