Nursing Wesley right now is a difficult thing for me, but not for the reasons you might expect.
He’s nearly 16 months old now, and he’s become a quick nurser – usually five minutes or so and he’s done, and he really only nurses a few times during the day. However, since he weaned himself off the nipple shield a month ago, I’ve been having problems. Like, pain-and-damage problems. Cracks, bleeding, the whole works. During the 14.5 months he nursed with the shield (surprise, surprise) he did not learn to correct his latch problems.
His latch looks fine from the outside (lips turned out, asymmetrical latch, etc.) which makes this infinitely more frustrating. To the best of my knowledge, he just has a really shallow latch. I sandwich the boob and make sure the nip is the last thing in his mouth, but to no avail. I grit my teeth, bite pillows or my hand, and come away from every feeding with blanching, a compressed nip, cracks, and sometimes bleeding. I tried going back to the shield a few times in moments of sheer, eye-watering desperation but he isn’t having it and cries until I remove it.
Making this all the more complicated is that I have been looking into becoming an LLL Leader. It’s something I think I want to do, and there is definitely a need here as the current leader is somewhat inactive, but it’s extremely difficult for me to be enthusiastic about helping people fix their nursing problems when I can’t even fix my own. I feel like I should already know what to do, but I have no idea how to fix a persistent shallow latch in a TODDLER who has been perfecting this particular brand of nursing for almost a year and a half.
I don’t want to wean him; neither of us is ready for that. He’d be devastated and I’d be upset that I didn’t make it to two years. But I find myself avoiding nursing him, even if he asks for it (by signing “milk” and then “please,” I die of the cute) because of the pain involved. I’m applying Lansinoh like it’s my job, and I’m pulling on his chin and trying to tell him “big mouth, BIG MOUTH” to improve things, but I’m not sure what to expect with regards to healing if he does not correct his shallow latch. It’s been over a month, and the damage isn’t going away.
I love being a nursing mother, but man this is hard. I’m just not sure what to do!