Two years ago when I had my daughter the lactation consultant at the hospital and the one at the pediatrician's office both gave me a nipple shield due to the small size of my nipples and my daughter's unwillingness to latch.  I was not able to nurse my daughter as I had supply issues due to complications with her delivery.  I have a 10 day old boy now that I am currently nursing, and last week one of my nipples was so cracked and sore that I couldn't roll it before nursing without blood coming out.  I could barely touch it.  I found and cleaned the shields so I could keep nursing without my son actually touching the cracked nipple and with extra lanolin it started to heal up.  We had a follow up with the LC at the pediatrician's office regarding my son's weight gain and nursing support and when I told her I had used the shield it was almost like a panic with her saying to wean off of it as soon as possible because of issues with supply and extraction.  I was able to get my son to nurse just fine without it for 3 days and the LC got me a prescription for triple nipple ointment so the cracking and pain is lessened but ask the sudden my son refuses to nurse without the shield, like he will open his mouth and take my nipples but he just hold them in his mouth for a second then spits them out even though he is hungry.  I don't like the shield as it leaks and I have to keep track of and clean it, so I plan to try to wean him off but my question is why would the LC recommend the shield for nursing my daughter but not my son and am I doing him a disservice by continuing to use it?
Thank you.

Dear Erin,

First, congratulations for giving both your children the best start in life by breastfeeding them! I am so sorry to hear of the pain you have been experiencing and I hope you'll be feeling better soon.

Nipple shields are controversial, with some lactation consultants favoring their use and others strongly against them. Could the conflicting advice you received be because you got it from two different LCs?

This is what I would recommend: Since your son nurses better with the shields, keep using them for a while, keep carefully cleaning them after every feeding, and keep trying to offer him a feeding without them from time to time. As his latch becomes stronger, he won't need them any longer. No, you're not doing your son a disservice by using the shields since their use makes it possible for him to receive your good milk.

Good luck!

Sally Wendkos Olds
Author, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING: Olds & Marks, 4th edition, September 2010, published by Workman Publishing, and available in most public libraries, bookstores & La Leche League chapters.  


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Sally Wendkos Olds


What do you want to know about breastfeeding? I can tell you what`s good for the baby, what`s good for the mother -- and the father, how it`s related to a woman`s sexuality, how working moms can nurse, how to overcome obstacles, and lots more. As the author of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING and author or coauthor of 8 other books and more than 200 articles about child and adult development, I can offer sound, sensible advice on breastfeeding, child care and family issues.


I nursed my 3 daughters and am the grandmother of 5 breastfed children. My book THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING (written in consultation with pediatrician Marvin S. Eiger, M.D.) was first published in 1972, and in 1999 came out in an updated 3rd Edition by Workman Publishing & Bantam Books. It is now a classic, with over 2 million copies in print. I am now revising this book for a fourth edition, consulting with pediatrician Laura M. Marks, M.D. This new edition will be published September 2009. I welcome any and all suggestions for the new edition. I coauthored college textbooks A CHILD'S WORLD: INFANCY THROUGH ADOLESCENCE, and HUMAN DEVELOPMENT; both are leading texts in their fields and have been read by 2 million students. I am the coauthor of HELPING YOUR CHILD FIND VALUES TO LIVE BY and RAISING A HYPERACTIVE CHILD, and author of THE WORKING PARENTS' SURVIVAL GUIDE & THE ETERNAL GARDEN: SEASONS OF OUR SEXUALITY. My newest book, A BALCONY IN NEPAL: GLIMPSES OF A HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, published in 2002, tells the story of the way of life in a remote village in Nepal, where all the women breastfeed! My book, SUPER GRANNY: COOL PROJECTS, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, will be published March 2009. I speak often to professional, parent and general audiences and make many radio and TV appearances.

Credentials I received my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where I minored in Psychology, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude.

Other points of interest I have received national awards for my writing, and am a former president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. I am listed in the World Who's Who of Women, International Authors & Writers Who's Who, and Contemporary Authors, and am a member of several professional and civic organizations. I believe: that all parents are working parents; that parents employed outside the home need special support; that mothers' well-being is crucial to their children's welfare; and that the family is the best institution in the world and the one for which we are least prepared. My thrills come when parents or kids tell me they were helped by my writing or speaking or just understanding. To find out more about me, go to

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