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Preemies transitioning to the breast

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I know this is a preemie question, but I feel still most relevant here on the multiples board:

I'd really love if we could share stories of how we went to the breast/ not and what went well/ what you'd do different next time?

Ellie, ( got the idea from the AJolie thread where you mentioned your experience briefly), do you have anywhere you wrote about how you transitioned to the breast with your preemies? My daughter is still lagging to transfer to the breast and leave her NGT top ups - would love other mama input. It's not like she's the only one at the breast, so I'm finding it hard to know if it's a supply thing/ just her/ something else going wrong !?!

When my son went to the breast I had an oversupply from so MUCH pumping but I've dropped most pumping bar once a day or so because it's just hard to get it all done, ( four older homeschooled children and a mostly absent daddy)

If have more moments I'll try and write more about how it;s gone so far, but anyone who can add their stories pleeeease

( - i think i'm looking at the emotional stamina it takes too to get things established where there are blips at the beginning)

and excuse all my blitherings. hope some make sense. :

and to add also - I'm totally loving having the two and it's fab , just interesting sometimes
post #2 of 28
I'm going to sub to this so I don't forget to answer. I have to go put the monkeys to bed but I definitely could write a novel in here.
post #3 of 28
Not too sure what you mean...what is NGT?
post #4 of 28
NGT = Nasogastric tube (feeding tube through the nose)
post #5 of 28
My twins were 2 months premature. I had severe pre-eclampsia and was extremely ill after delivery. I spent 10 days in the hospital, including ICU, after delivery. Pumping just wasn't the first priority.

My little ones received formula, pacifiers, and bottles during this period. Because of hte preeclampsia and complications I was taking such a huge volume of serious medicine that neonatalogy vetoed breastmilk.

Once we got home, I let them play with nursing. I was actually pretty relaxed about it, thanks to my La Leche Leader. She said with preemies they may not be able to latch on until they reach a certain age or weight. They could NOT latch on at all until finally, when my little girl, reached her "due date" she latched on like a pro. She nursed exclusively and incessantly since then. I guess my take away point would be to stay relaxed about it. I don't think a pressure to nurse them is helpful for you or for them. Like they really need to sense a little of stress from you every time they try to eat.

My son was a different story. It was exquisitely, heart-breakingly painful. He would cry in agony if his sister nursed or during his interminable attempts to nurse in which he could NOT latch on. He had extremely low muscle tone, so latching on was just impossible. I would insist on trying to nurse, not be able to latch on, and then cry in agony. I cannot even bear to think about it. Frankly, it reached the point where I just wished he wouldn't even try and would just be happy with bottles because he became so upset. At 12 1/2 weeks, he finally latched on. He flung the bottles out of my hand. He nursed exclusively. But his latch was weak, and he wasn't a very effective nurser.
HTH
post #6 of 28
My boys didn't nurse very well in the nicu. The NG tube makes it difficult to get latched (even if it's in the nose because it tickles them). I used a nipple shield. My boys were really little and it was almost impossible for them to get a good latch with a shield. As much as I didn't want to use one, it was a fantastic help.
Once we got home, I got comfortable nursing them with the shields and started to wean them off them. I'd start with one feeding per day and only in the past week or so have they completely stopped needing shields.
When we were in the nicu, I was only able to go in 1-2 times per day and I was able to take them to the breastfeeding room. I saw the LC probably twice a week and I used lots of pillows to help get them positioned. It was A LOT of work and definitely much easier when they were able to take their whole feeds orally (either by bottle or breast) and didn't need the NG tube.
There were days where I was really just ready to give up. I had to tell myself daily that they will get it. One day it will just "click" and they won't need their NG tubes or extra bottles.
post #7 of 28
My twins haven't been born yet-- so I'm appreciating these stories to help me prepare. (Also reading Mothering Multiples at the moment).
post #8 of 28
My girls didn't really nurse much in the NICU. They tried a few times, but it was no great shakes.

I agree with the PP that said that sometimes they just have to get old enough or big enough. My girls caught on when they would have been 42 weeks gestationally, and it was really like one day they couldn't, and the next day they could.

I pumped while they were in the NICU for one month, and pumped for a month after they got home, with one bottle of formula a day to supplement. Eventually, I just let one of them try once a day, to see if they could yet. And one day they could!

The pumping and bottlewashing and all that was awful. Just such a lot of time and clean-up. But I'd nursed my older two children and loved it so much, so I had a clear idea of what I was aiming at. I had this picture in my head of being able to look down and see these two little faces, happily nursing at my breasts, and that's what helped me keep going.

Awful first two months. Totally worth it.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanauken View Post
I agree with the PP that said that sometimes they just have to get old enough or big enough. My girls caught on when they would have been 42 weeks gestationally, and it was really like one day they couldn't, and the next day they could.
This is heart warming that it can still happen after the official birth date
It is what the NICU say, but with their advice I've probably thrown the baby out with the bath water !!! My son just suddenly 'got it' at like 36 weeks, but he was ahead with weight. Daughter is now hitting that same weight 3 weeks later. I think things are slooowly moving in the right direction. Overall, it makes me feel sick to think of not b'feeding them exclusively, hence the panic I guess, but like Purple Cat said, that stress isn't conducive to getting good latch and b'feed!

I'm expressing more - seeing how long others kept going with that is motivating me :
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by shukr View Post
This is heart warming that it can still happen after the official birth date
It is what the NICU say, but with their advice I've probably thrown the baby out with the bath water !!! My son just suddenly 'got it' at like 36 weeks, but he was ahead with weight. Daughter is now hitting that same weight 3 weeks later. I think things are slooowly moving in the right direction. Overall, it makes me feel sick to think of not b'feeding them exclusively, hence the panic I guess, but like Purple Cat said, that stress isn't conducive to getting good latch and b'feed!

I'm expressing more - seeing how long others kept going with that is motivating me :
Your daughter WILL get it. Try to be patient and keep pumping. My boys were in the NICU for 81 and 87 days and I managed to keep up my supply. I actually had to buy a chest freezer to store all of the milk. I paid to rent the pump for another month after they came home while I transitioned them to exclusively breastfeeding and allowing my milk supply to adjust.
post #11 of 28
I'll add my story because even though I ended up EPing for 18 months rather than nursing, I think it could help someone not get stuck doing that, or support anyone who does.

My twins were born at 29 weeks. Kate was on a vent for 2 weeks, Lilly was on CPAP for 10 days, and they worked their way down the line to just needing supplemental oxygen by nasal cannula after the first 3-4 weeks. They nursed a bit in the NICU and I really thought we were going to make it but when they got home all hell broke loose. Kate was on oxygen for 2.5 more months at home, my husband went back to work--to a new job with late hours (leaving at 8am, home around 10pm most nights), my parents helped but weren't enough help (or not the right kind of help, really). I had thrush and terribly inflamed nipples, and the girls' latches were brutal! With trying to nurse them, then bottle feed, then pump to maintain supply, I basically couldn't do anything else, like eat or sleep. I worked with an LC who wanted to do a frenotomy, but their pediatrician was against it and I was too anxious to do it against his advice, or to cause my sweet babies even one more second of pain after all they had been through.

I've spent a lot of time mourning and feeling guilty because I felt like I should have made it work. I also have been angry a lot because if my husband had been here more I probably would have had a better shot. But then again we'd be broke...

One thing I wish I had known at the outset was to put a drop of olive oil on the horns to help lubricate them. Maybe my nipples wouldn't have been so desperately painful and maybe I would've had the fortitude to keep trying to correct the latches.

I also wish I had read more about breastfeeding preemies and spoken up about it in the NICU. My NICU had a wonderfully kind LC, and was very very pro-breastmilk. But when it came to actually getting babies on the breast, she wasn't super-helpful. She came the first 1-2 times, but after that I had to rely on the nurses, who were busy taking care of other patients and not necessarily knowledgeable. And their first goal was not to get the babies on the breast - it was to keep them alive and get them well enough to go home, regardless of feeding method. They supported breastmilk wholeheartedly, but really, to them, it wasn't a big difference. And because they couldn't measure breastmilk intake (actually, we did sometimes - with the medela scale to weigh them before and after, but man is that a PITA) it wasn't as comfortable for them.

I wish I had asked to use an SNS instead of bottlefeeding. But I kind of don't even know how that would've gone down. It was so uncomfortable to nurse there (there was like 1 comfy glider chair and the rest were like waiting room chairs) I can't imagine I could've had them both at the same time. And for my husband, bottlefeeding the babies was often the only time he could hold them. Still, I wish I had pushed for fewer bottles, more breast, even though I am not sure how realistic that would have been.

I also wish that sometime in the first couple of months home, I would have done a "nursing vacation" with the girls. Just made my parents and/or husband take care of everything else, sat in my bed with those little babies, and nursed until they got it. But with him at a new job, my parents elated to hold the babies, and me feeling so vulnerable and unable to ask for help, it didn't happen.

Shukr, it sounds like you are doing great. You are an experienced BFer already, which is tremendously helpful. I had no clue what I was doing, even though I read everything in the world about nursing and nursing twins. I just couldn't figure out how to implement it within the constraints of my particular situation. You are well on your way, and I am cheering for you!
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 


OGirlieMama, you sweet, wonderful woman. Thank you so much for sharing this.
I am utterly in awe that you expressed for so long and thinking that took some major mama power, far exceeding mere b'feeding!!!
You seriously humble me

:
post #13 of 28
nak so short

from an email i sent to a nicu mama:

I wasn't able to try breastfeeding until they were 32 weeks and that was only if they were awake for a scheduled feeding (I know better now and would tell the nurses that I would try whenever they were awake and aware, but I didn't know to do that until towards the end.) It was very slow going. S miraculously had a full feeding very early on and that gave me hope, but for the most part we had a lot of non-nutritive sucking and they would be fed by tube. Then, once they came home they told me I would have to fortify with formula, give bottles part of the time and continue pumping. I was so tired of pumping and so determined that we just had a nurse-in and the breast was the only option. Lucky for us, it worked. Their latches weren't great in the beginning due to their tiny mouths, but as they grew it got better. I really don't think fortifying with formula is necessary, so I didn't. My pediatrician approved but the NICU had recommended it.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanauken View Post

Awful first two months. Totally worth it.

Amen! we nursed tandem virtually around the clock for about 3 mos. but i do have really fond memories of this time.
post #15 of 28
this thread makes me want to cry... this has been such a long, continuing process for us. the boys are 15 weeks old now - 7 weeks adjusted - and i'm still on the road to exclusively nursing. seeing how you other mamas persevered is encouraging and moving.

i'll try to come back later with more, shukr, you know most of the story already because i've posted about it on my blog.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by celesterra View Post
this thread makes me want to cry... this has been such a long, continuing process for us. the boys are 15 weeks old now - 7 weeks adjusted - and i'm still on the road to exclusively nursing. seeing how you other mamas persevered is encouraging and moving.

i'll try to come back later with more, shukr, you know most of the story already because i've posted about it on my blog.


you can do it, mama!
post #17 of 28
Thank you so much for posting this question. It is very possible that my twins will be premmie and this is the one area I am really concerned. I had no problems breastfeeding my oldest. He was a champion latcher on and nurser and I thoughrougly enjoyed our breastfeeding relationship. Thank you all for sharing your stories and experiences. They are inspiring and motivational. Thank you.
post #18 of 28
Ok, sorry I'm coming late to this thread!

I wrote it all up and it was long so it's posted here
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by celesterra View Post
this thread makes me want to cry... this has been such a long, continuing process for us. the boys are 15 weeks old now - 7 weeks adjusted - and i'm still on the road to exclusively nursing. seeing how you other mamas persevered is encouraging and moving.

i'll try to come back later with more, shukr, you know most of the story already because i've posted about it on my blog.
Yes, let's hang in there together (((Celeste)))

Quote:
Originally Posted by mama_tigress View Post
Ok, sorry I'm coming late to this thread!

I wrote it all up and it was long so it's posted here
Thanks Ellie. I think early and very frequent pumping is a HUGE deal. It's on my list of what I'd do differently, even though I started within about 5 hours after birth. First day or so I didn't pump enough; in so much shock and negative attitudes from staff not to overdo it. I think late in day 2 I thought sack their advice and pump every 2/3 hours as I knew I should be
post #20 of 28
Yes, Celeste, I am sending you positive vibes, too. I never really knew about momo twins.

The NICU is hard, but doable. Does your NICU have private rooms? That is what made my experience MUCH better than it could have been. If you don't have that option at your hospital you may want to "shop around" for it. I just got lucky.

Once the babies are home and your babies are healthfully gaining weight the NICU memories fade a bit. The 1 anniversary of it all is coming up soon for me and I am bracing myself for some emotions but we'll see... since my girls are close to 20 pounds at 10.5 mos (born at 3.5 and 3.4) I have so much to be thankful for.

xoxoxo Celeste! I'm sending you good vibes!
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