(Image description: an indented circle of silicone that peaks in a cone in the middle)
I have been using a nipple shield as a breast feeding aid since coming home from the hospital. Above is a picture of the type pf shield the lactation consultant gave me. My baby was 4 weeks early and apparently with babies born that early there is usually issues with initial breast feeding. Their jaws are not developed enough to latch on without help.
Anyway, the shield was a godsend at first, since I was having the hardest time figuring out how the fuck this breast feeding thing was supposed to work with a child that was smaller than one of my boobs, while my boobs were leaking everywhere and almost drowning hir, AND we were on an aggressive feeding schedule to help hir get hir bilirubin count down to a normallish level and avoid re-hospitalization for jaundice. I couldn't for the life of me get hir to latch without it, and my nipples had this awful habit of almost retracting into my breast when I tried.
The only problem was that the shield was a bit too small for one of my nipples and caused me quite a bit of pain. there was blood, and scabbing and throbbing, yelpy pain. I'd cry while feeding on that side, or kick the floor really hard. Made life miserable for the entire house, let me tell you. It got so bad that I spent two days nursing exclusively on the undamaged side and only pumping the side that hurt. Which meant staying in the same spot all freaking day, and essentially doing nothing but pumping and nursing.
One night I lost the fucking thing and almost had a total meltdown because the baby was hungry and crying and I couldn't feed hir and I was broken because I couldn't feed my child without help and Oh My God I was a miserable fucking failure failure FAILURE! (I felt like a right dickhead when I discovered I'd thrown this awful fit thinking it was lost and the damn thing was just shut in my computer.)
After quite a few frustrating attempts, I had almost quit trying to move to feeding without it, and had resigned myself to pain and the stress of keeping track of this little piece of silicone for the duration of our breast feeding relationship. Then about a week ago, my aunt that was visiting to meet the baby was watching me breast feed with the shield, and she suggested, gently, that I was ready to try and get hir to latch without it.
This aunt and I have always been close, to the point that I see her as almost a mother/sister in my life. While she subscribes to some spiritual ideas that can be obnoxious in some ways, she has also given me some great insights through the years. So I gave it a shot. And holy shit, first try and zie latched on like we had never done anything else! Today was the first day we went for all of our feeds without it, and the only things that have changed is how I feel about feeding my baby.
I'm so proud of hir...and of me. We are fucking awesome :D