After my son was born, I was very eager to start breastfeeding. Since it was my first time, I was not aware of the obstacles that many mothers face at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. For me, among the infant feeding problems I faced, the most stressful was a baby with a poor latch. I received a lot of help from the lactation consultants at the hospital. They showed me different nursing positions to see if a certain one would help.
Using a Nipple Shield
Regardless of the position I was nursing in, I was in pain. My son’s latch would not improve. He was only latching on to the nipple which caused extreme discomfort. This also led to cracked, bleeding nipples. Finally, the lactation consultant brought me a nipple shield and explained to me the correct way to use it. The nipple shield helped tremendously.
There are two types of nipple shields:
- Regular – It covers the entire areola.
- Contact – It has a cut-out designed for skin-to-skin contact.
I have tried both and preferred to use the contact nipple shield.
The Inconvenience of the Nipple Shield
While the shield did help with the latch problem, it also was a burden. I constantly had to wash it after each feeding. I felt trapped at home because I couldn’t breastfeed in public. The shield did not make it a quick and easy process. If I did go out grocery shopping, I would nurse in the car.
After a few days of using the nipple shield I started to hate it. I just wanted to breastfeed without having to worry about putting it on.
I tried nursing without it, but my son would have such a hard time latching on that I had no other choice. Some days I would even cry. It was that bad.
Despite feeling defeated, I never once thought about giving up breastfeeding. I also got advice from a breastfeeding peer counselor who was always available to talk to. It’s important to seek guidance when facing infant feeding problems, whether it’s through a lactation consultant or from other moms who have experienced the same issue.
During one of his check-ups, the pediatrician noticed that he was tongue-tied, also known as ankyloglossia. I was unaware of what a tongue-tie was at the time. It was the main reason why my baby’s latch was poor. The tongue-tie prevented him from latching on properly. It was recommended to get the frenulum clipped to improve his latch.
We never got around to getting the procedure done because the location was too far for us to travel. I continued to use the shield for about 3 months. I asked myself, “Will I be able to nurse someday without this?”
Progress: Moving Beyond the Shield
As my son got older, I knew his latch would improve. One day, I decided to try to breastfeed again without the nipple shield. He didn’t immediately like the idea but with lots of encouragement and patience, I was finally able to get rid of the shield! It was a very proud moment for both of us. I felt great relief just being able to nurse him with no barriers!
I’m so happy I didn’t stop breastfeeding when facing the issue of a poor latch. A year later, I am still breastfeeding with no feeding problems at all. My son is right on track with his health.
It was a difficult journey but we made it through.