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Successful breastfeeding..

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi Mommas -

Hope everyone is doing well and happy and healthy!!

I am looking for some encouragement - my guy is not nursing well and it is heartbreaking for me. We're home, and he eats my milk from bottles, so I know I have so much to be thankful for. It's just that after missing out on the beautiful pregnancy I wanted and the beautiful birth I wanted, not being able to breastfeed would just kill me. I know it's just a matter of time, that I just need to be patient...but I would love to hear some success stories if anyone has them! Was it hard? How did you know they were getting enough by breast? I'm so used to counting mL's that switching to minutes will be really weird for us...

A few days ago I thought he had nursed successfully, but then half an hour later he was hungry again. Is this to be expected? Does it mean that he didn't actually get the calories I thought he did? I'm just so new to this nursing gig, and I'm feeling really discouraged (and terrified of the idea of continuing to pump for years!).

Any encouragement will help so much. Thanks!
post #2 of 23
Yes, it's hard yes it's possible. Ideally you would get hooked up with a lactation consultant who can support you. You might find success with a nursing supplementor and just reduce the amount of expressed milk bit by bit, or if your supply is good you might be able to go cold turkey on the bottles and see what happens; but it depends on how your son is and really needs support iykwim.

What age and weight is he now? Aaagh, I can't believe I'm asking that. LOL. I got so sick of those assessments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep trying him at the breast anyway, and you may find he just suddenly takes off and feeds really well one feed, then another and another.....

Rushing atm, but I'm sure another mama will jump in and be more useful, but couldn't read and not : and
post #3 of 23
Like the PP said, it is hard, but it is possible! My Dd was born at 31 weeks. She came home at 39 weeks, bottle feeding exclusively EBM. After 1 1/2 months at home, she switched exclusively to breastfeeding!! Keep offering the breast, definitely. If you have a scale, you can weigh before and after to see how much he's getting. But, don't get too hung up on these numbers. I know I did, because, in the NICU, I was made to believe that unless my DD got her full feeding (60 ml) at the breast, then our breastfeeding attempt was a failure! But, this isn't the case. Most importantly, I would make an appointment with a LC -- one not associated with the hospital. Have them work with you on his latch and just observe him! This really helped me. Our LC watched my daughter nurse (at our house) for about 2 hours. She would nurse about an ounce, then take a 30 minute break, take another ounce, and so on. In the NICU, I was made to believe this was a failed attempt, but the LC told me this was normal! Also, co-sleep! I know that is not recommended by the neonatologists for preemies, but that really helped! My DD really began to breastfeeding when we began co-sleeping. With preemies, you hate to say get rid of the bottle all together, especially if you are having to fortify his milk for extra calories. Also, if he was really early, there might be a need for him to continue to receive the fortification. My pedi said that my DD didn't necessarily need the fortification, so just let her make the switch. Now, she won't even take a bottle. If you need to supplement, use an SNS. You just really want him to see the breast as where all that good, yummy food is coming from! Be persistent, get help if necessary, but work with him. More than anything, preemies want warmth and love from their mommies, and you can give that to him via breastfeeding! Good luck!!! :
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by shukr View Post
What age and weight is he now? Aaagh, I can't believe I'm asking that. LOL. I got so sick of those assessments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me too, but now I'm obsessed with them!!! He is 41 weeks gestation, and 6 lb 7.5 oz at the last weigh-in. He was born at 2 . I am so proud of my little boy.

I'm lucky enough to have a best friend who is an ex-certified lactation consultant, and I want her to just come over and watch us nurse, because I'm pretty sure it's a problem with his seal that's stopping us considering how sore my nipples are. The problem is that she has a nine month old with a sniffle . As soon as her DD gets better, she's coming over...I'd rather Gwyn still had some bottles for a while than possible RSV, kwim?

I think it'd be easier if I had experience bf-ing, but this is my first baby, and so I am totally the blind leading the blind with him right now.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, we're in Bradford PA - and there are literally no LC's closer than an hour and a half. I wrote about my best friend who is an ex-LC, so I want her to come over and watch us nurse as soon as her daughter is all well...I was also thinking of calling the midwife I was seeing while pregnant, figuring that she'd probably have at least some good input even if her actual speciality is birth not breast. That and I just want to see her we loved our midwife.

He does co-sleep and we're working on the nursing lying down. He gets frustrated when he can't latch on (which I think is a good sign) and then latching on becomes even more impossible because he is flailing like...what in nature flails? I don't know, but can we all imagine that something does? Anyway, letting me know that he's very upset...but we're practicing. I could probably practice that more (lying on couch and nursing when not too tired during the day rather than football/cradle hold).

We'll look into a SNS - that might be exactly what we need. Take that back: I have no idea what we need, lol. But it is definitely worth a try!
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Oh, fortification! We just talked to his ped about this and he said that as long as we're giving him the bottles that there's no harm in adding a bit of extra calories to them, but once he's nursing all the time not to worry about it. He does get some reflux medication, so would need about an ounce for that to go in twice a day...
post #7 of 23
First off congrats to you on your new baby and it is wonderful that you are breastfeeding. It can be done. I left the NICU with my 31 weeker EBF but he was my fifth so I can imagine that it would be much harder with a first baby and not knowing what to expect.

It is common for preemies to have a weak latch, my 31 weeker who is now 7 months and over 14 lbs still does somewhat but it can be overcome with patience. Draw the baby in as close to you as possible with your hand firmly supporting his shoulder blades. Make sure to get as much of the breast in his mouth as possible. As a very last resort you can use a nipple shield.

Forget about measuring ml's. It can be really common for a newborn(which is what your baby is right now) to nurse alot even every half hour some days, that is their way of increasing your supply. It does not necessarily mean that they are starving or need supplements other than the breast. Supplementing even previously pumped milk too much can reduce how much your baby takes and reduce your supply.

Your best indicator is going to be dirty and wet diapers to know how much your baby is taking. Stop wondering how much is going in and only be concerned on what is coming out for a day or so and that will give you a good idea. You can also try EBF for a week or so and then have a weight check which will give you a good indicator of how things are going.

((hugs). If your nipples are sore definitly get some lanolin on them and just try to stick with it and not stress too much. It is hard but with patience and perseverence it will work out.
post #8 of 23
I am in the same boat as you. My son is four months old, will be two months corrected on the 24th of December. I am now pumping, attempting to breast feed and bottle feeding. I am going crazy! The lactation consultatnt says that there are two windows of opportunity to teach preemies to breast feed: their due date week and the week when they are six weeks of corrected age. My son takes so little and then sleeps one hour or one and a half. My production has been reduced. I refuse to breast feed at night now.

When you have a preemie you have so much to get used to. First they are born and you have to get used to the hospitalization stress and routine. My son was in three different hospitals. Second, When the baby comes home, it feels like he is a newborn. You get on your own routine. Third, if you are attempting to breast feed you throw everything out of the window. It feels like he is a newborn again. A new routine is in the making.

Sometimes I want to give up! He screams and scratches. He has made my nipple bleed. He chomps down or while it is in his mouth he moves his head side to side. I wanted to start my own thread today about this. People around me do not believe that he will get it. Sometimes he does and sometimes he does not.

Now Christmas is coming it is more frustrating. I can have him on a schedule with the bottle but I am scared if I do not breast feed then he will lose it.

I am going to my appointment now with my lc. I may not have given you encouragement since I a frustrated too. But now you know that you are not alone in your journey. Try not to give up! It is tough sometimes.
post #9 of 23
Originally Posted by mommylovesra View Post
It can be really common for a newborn(which is what your baby is right now) to nurse alot even every half hour some days, that is their way of increasing your supply. It does not necessarily mean that they are starving or need supplements other than the breast. Supplementing even previously pumped milk too much can reduce how much your baby takes and reduce your supply.
I was just coming back to post something to this effect! Some LC's and doctors will suggest offering him a bottle after he nurses. Most babies will take a bottle after they nurse just because it is so easy. However, that is not an indicator of whether or not he's getting enough from you directly. So, resist temptation to cave into the bottle totally just because he may "seem" hungry. And, yeah, you can always go and weigh him at your doctor's office any time you want!!

Good luck!
post #10 of 23
Have you tried a nipple shield? I used them to get my twins nursing and it was a lifesaver. They've been nursing without them for about a month now.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
We did try a nipple shield at the NICU, but Gwyn is having none of it. He knows that Momma's nipples aren't plastic? I'm not sure, but he was thoroughly disturbed and wouldn't even try to nurse until it was off. I wish it had worked I hear it's a lifesaver lots of times!
post #12 of 23
Hi, just wanted to share my story as an encouragement that it can happen . . . my girls were 33 weekers, spent a month in the NICU and came home on bottles. They got the hang of breastfeeding about a month after they came home, so they were about 42-43 weeks gestation.

I got to the point of being so frustrated with breastfeeding not working, that I'd just let one of them try once a day, and do bottles the rest of the time. But then, one day, the one I tried did it! And then her sister did it! And then they both just took off. It was incredible. And they're still going strong at 10 months.

It really felt like they just had to get big enough and old enough . . . I don't know if it'll work that way for you, of course, but it did for us, so it's possible.

We kept ours on one bottle each a day for several months, partly for supplementation, but mostly because my milk supply got really low at about 6 pm. and the twins got really hungry at about 6 pm . . . but eventually we were able to drop that bottle and exclusively breastfeed.

I hope it works out for you. I know how frustrating it is, and how hard it is to pump AND bottlefeed, but if it helps, I'm really glad I did looking back at it.
post #13 of 23
My little guy was a 29wkr who came home at 38wks gestation not nursing. I wont lie, it was really tough getting him nursing but it was something I was determined to do (although unfortunately even all of the determination in the world never got my 25wkr nursing). We came home and just stopped bottles. He was latching but he wouldn't actually nurse for more than 5min or so. From the moment he came home the second he got hungry or I thought he might be hungry I'd latch him on for the couple of minutes he'd stay on the boob. Then a few minutes later he'd want to eat more and we'd do it all over again. Eventually I noticed his latch improving greatly and here and there we'd get a true nursing session in where I felt like he was really getting a decent amount of milk. Yet even then within the hour he was hungry again. It was very discouraging but eventually within about 6-8wks of him being home he started to get it and gain weight. He did plateau with his weight when he came home but he was peeing and so I wasn't worried. I had a supportive pediatrician which was very helpful. I kept pumping throughout the whole transition and I would give him a small bottle if at any point I felt like he was getting dehydrated.

I hope that gives you a little bit of encouragement.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the encouragement everyone! It is just so nice to hear "yes, it's hard, but stick it out" and also that other people are in the same boat. That is why this community is so important to me (now that I've found it) - the breastfeeding troubles my friends know about largely aren't really applicable to our situation. I know my milk supply is good, it's just I don't know how effectively he's nursing, but so the support and advice that I get from them often just makes me mad . I think that going through the NICU is truly a unique human experience...you really can't understand at all what it's like to have a premature baby unless you've had one.

He's done really well nursing the past few days - I can feel his latch getting stronger, and so I think we're just going to keep doing what we're doing for a little bit. I nurse him while Daddy makes a bottle, and then he eats however much he wants from said bottle, and then can nurse for fun or comfort or anytime he asks to. It's just so hard to eliminate the bottle entirely, because I am so obsessed with him gaining weight, since weight gain has become such a sign of a healthy baby to me!
post #15 of 23
My 27 weeker is 6 mons, (3 adj) and she nurses great now. It took a lot of time, but she does great now.
post #16 of 23
on some days my own son would be hungry often right after nursing. he was not a preemie but I think this can be true of all babies..honstly I wonder if it might be comfort boobie...it just feels so good to be up with mommy....

anway, I am sending you big time nursing vibes

post #17 of 23
The lc told me on our last appointment (not the one yesterday) to set aside 3 to 4 hours per day to only breast feed. The other times offer the breast so the baby gets used to it but do not push. That way you may (I am still confused by it) start to understand how baby is feeding depending on how long it is between feeds. Also, bottle fed babies take in more. It is difficuly counting every ml since that is what we were conditioned to do in the hospital.

It is like our babies are new born. They may take in less but more times per day. It is fustrating since you have no idea when.

Also, if a baby nurses for a short time they get their thirst met but it takes the hind milk to satisfy them with calories.

If your boy is 41 weeks old then, according to my lc, you still have the five weeks unitl your next week of opportunity. But I would not give up until then. I would still work at it. Wow your boy has grown. This is all on your milk so be proud of yourself.
post #18 of 23
Here's encouragement from me: YOU CAN DO THIS!
My daughters' latches were pretty crummy at first. Their mouths were so small! Evey feeding would take close to an hour... every 2 hours. But, as they grew my nipples got less sore until they weren't anymore b/c their mouths had gotten bigger.
I checked out your blog. What lovely pictures. AND your son looks so incredibly healthy for a baby at his due date and born at 28 weeks. I wish you lots of luck and if you need a cheerleader PM me.
I personally made the breast the only option. They just got the hang of it out of necessity. Don't double guess yourself and give a bottle b/c you're worried he's hungry.

post #19 of 23
Oh, I so remember how HARD it is!!! But persevere... you can do it!!

My dd was a 32 weeker, spent 3 weeks in the NICU. They didn't let me breastfeed there at all and were not supportive. When we came home it didn't go well at first but I was determined. It took about 3 weeks. I had to keep pumping the exact amount at first which was disappointing but if I didn't my milk supply would drop. My dd really liked using a nipple shield b/c the plastic was familiar to her. I would put her on without it (she would cry! she hated it. but I had to keep trying), then with it, then give her a bottle, then pump. Every three hours around the clock... you are in the middle of it, I'm sure! Anyway, after a week or two when she was getting the hang of it better I started to drop one pumping every other day. Also I would drop one bottle after b/f every other day. Does that make sense? I think I found that schedule on kellymom.com somewhere.

I have two friends who pumped for a year for their preemies because their kids never took to the breast. I really struggled with it - everyone who would watch me would wonder, why are you doing that to that kid? but I was determined to get her used to it and after a while she did get it. It's just you are so tired right now and so sick of the pump that it seems like it's impossible... but it's not!!

My dd ended up b/f for 18 months. Then my #2, ds, was a 34 weeker, spent a week in the NICU, b/f like a champ for 23 months!

One more thing - I called La Leche League and they found someone who had experience with preemies and she talked to me over the phone several times. That was very helpful. I never did go to a meeting! But just hearing her voice was nice.

post #20 of 23
Definitely call your midwife! She might know an LC for you to contact--it'd be worth it for you to drive a ways to get some help. Most hospitals have one on staff as well.

Keep at it, just keep offering him the breast *first* before he's full, and then give him the bottle to top him off. Once he's better at nursing, you can reduce the amount he's taking in the bottle, a little at a time, until he's on the breast totally. Good luck!
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