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NICU effects on infants?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I just had my second daughter on 07-09... she is still in NICU. I was 35 wks and 6 days.. actually, if I would have waited 2 more hours, she would have been 36 weeks!! So.. Her gestational age is 37 weeks 1 day.. I am upset because she is so sleepy, and isn't taking more than 32-35mL's per feeding, so therefore, they won't let her go! Might I add, she had IUGR, and was born at 4lbs 10oz.. she is now 4lbs 11oz..

I know there are lots of babies who spend a lot MORE time in NICU, and I feel for them and thier families. This really is the hardest thing I've ever gone through.. but I am wondering: Has anyone had a problem with bonding with thier NICU baby once they come home? Has anyone noticed any ill side effects of being in a hospital bed for so long, without the comfort of mom more than 3-4 times a day.. or less?

Im just so worried that my daughter will finally come home, and either not want to be loved and cuddled and rocked. I wonder if she will demand being held more because of the same? How will I breastfeed her when I am only allowed to nurse her once per day while she is in the nursery.

I hate that she is so small, and is only taking 30-35mL's per feeding. She is gaining, but only 9 grams yesterday and 7 today.. her nurse told me that they like to see her gain 20-30 grams per day. It is just so frustrating having her at her gestational age, and them not letting her come home. Maybe I am misunderstanding, but I figured at 37 weeks, she would be FINE. I guess it's the IUGR... I am really confused about the whole process really. I don't know where to get support, besides here..
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnItalianMomma09 View Post

. but I am wondering: Has anyone had a problem with bonding with thier NICU baby once they come home? Has anyone noticed any ill side effects of being in a hospital bed for so long, without the comfort of mom more than 3-4 times a day.. or less?

Im just so worried that my daughter will finally come home, and either not want to be loved and cuddled and rocked. I wonder if she will demand being held more because of the same? How will I breastfeed her when I am only allowed to nurse her once per day while she is in the nursery.

..
(((HUGS)))) I was lucky, Sage was only 32 weeks, but only spent 14 days in NICU. The biggest thing that I found was that she did not do well co-sleeping so she slept in her crib and I slept on a bed in her bedroom. I have attributed it to time spent in NICU, but it could also just have been her preference. A downside was that she did not comort nurse or nurse to all asleep until she was over a year old, the upside was that she was easy to get to sleep and nap and had no problem being put down sleepy but awake. Kind of hard to reconcile as an AP mom, but it was nice, especially for my older daughter, because she was such an easy baby. When she was discharged she was alternating eeds breast then bottle 50/50. When I got home we ditched the bottles and never looked back (until I returned to work anyway) however, she was large for gestational age and did not have any issues with gaining so that won't work or every baby's situation.

hang in there momma
post #3 of 20
I'm wondering why your NICU will not let you breastfeed more often. Do they have a good reason?

At our NICU - which is very supportive of breastfeeding and attachment parenting - the "goal" for most parents was at least 5 out of 8 feedings a day by breast, if not all, before the baby went home. Our middle son, who was born at 35 weeks, was able to breastfeed exclusively. Our youngest was born at 31 weeks left the hospital having 5-6 out of 8 feedings by breast. The other two were bottles fortified with HMF or neosure.

To answer your first question, no we didn't have trouble bonding at home. It was wonderful to have him home after all the time in the NICU. So nice to just sit and hold him on the couch, to cuddle in bed, with no wires or monitors or nurses or doctors.

I'm wondering what's going on with your NICU, however...
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbrinton View Post
I'm wondering why your NICU will not let you breastfeed more often. Do they have a good reason?



I'm wondering what's going on with your NICU, however...
I would assume it has to do with the IUGR and the small for gestational age weight since these babies often expend more energy nursing than the amount o milk they can take in. Not a nurse, but that would be my guess.

ETA: I misread, I thought the PP said she was nursing 3-4 feeds a day, not once a day. Though with a weight gain of 7-9 grams a day that could still be why they are limiting feeds by breast
post #5 of 20
My DD was in the NICU for 7 1/2 weeks and I had no trouble bonding with her...although I didn't really feel it happened until AFTER we brought her home. Late is better than never right? It was just stressful in the hospital and I couldn't relax with her and I was so exhausted all the time from advocating for her (they really gave me a lot of hell).

For a long time afterwards, she would panic a bit if she had to go back inpatient. She would breathe fast and posture to one side. Of course, if your child leaves healthy, frequent hospital stays won't be an issue.

She responds differently to pain, although I don't know if this is due to her CP, or the fact that she copes differently because pain is all she's ever known. She tends to shut down for things like IV's and acts very indifferent to most pain. It's almost like she's given up on fighting it? Kind of sad.
post #6 of 20
No, I didnt have any issue with bonding once he came home-quite the opposite actually. I only saw him a few hours a day at the nicu, so having him home, all the time, was awsome.

My son absolutely LOVED being held once he came home. He thrived on it, along with the freedom to eat when he felt like it. I found once we came home, he was eating more frequently, but less each feed. Overall he was getting more than at the hospital, by quite a bit. I just treated the bottle like I would the breast-if he seemed even remotely hungry, I offered him food. I didnt care if he'd just downed a 4 ounces (a lot for him at the time!) 30 minutes ago-if he was hungry, he was hungry.

Once he started breastfeeding full time, he loved that so much, he wanted to nurse 24/7

Oh, I also found that removing the extra formula from his breastmilk stopped his spitting up and seemed to make him eat more at a time. I really think thats why he gained weight so fast-along with the awsome cuddles.

Anywho, he was 4lbs 13oz at birth. He went home at 5lbs 6oz, a month later-so not a huge gain. Another month later and he was up to 9 pounds!!!
post #7 of 20
DS was in NICU for just over 4 weeks after he was born. We really struggled with bonding, even once we got settled in at home, but I think that was more to do with my PPD than anything else. He didn't like to be held much, as he had gotten used to laying in one position all of the time (tube fed and on a respirator, and various monitors.. I wasn't allowed to hold him) and it seemed to distress him to be touched at all. But now, here we are, he's 6mo and the happiest baby I've known. He loves me, he loves his dad, he adores cuddles.. Though he still won't cosleep. I don't particularly mind, he sleeps right next to our bed anyway.
post #8 of 20
Even with IUGR, I think the mom and baby could have more of an opportunity to breastfeed. There are studies that say at least some preemies do better with breastfeeding than bottle feeding, and this was true in our experience. In the last week before Zephan came home, he would often take more than 60 cc by breast, but would only do about 35-40 by bottle.

I also wonder if the poster could try more frequent feedings, or ask the nurses about "cue based feeding". The NICU where our kiddos were is moving from a rigid 3 hour schedule towards cue based feeding for their stable/older babies.

Some babies definitely want to eat smaller amounts more frequently.
post #9 of 20
And one more, sort of funny thought...

We do notice a few NICU effects these days now that Zephan is 8 months old. He seems to have an affinity for nurses, social workers, therapists, or other attentive females. He is such a flirt. I think it's because he had all those nurses in the hospital. He also loves cords and wires of all types. When he was in the NICU, he would often fall asleep cuddling his wires and tubes to his little cheek. Now if I leave him alone on his playmat, he'll often roll and scoot around until he finds a cord or wire to cuddle up with.

On a more serious note, I think Zephan seems to really get how good he has it. After the trauma (and it is trauma, even in the best NICU) of being born 2 months prematurely and in the hospital, he just seems wise to the fact that he has things pretty good at home.
post #10 of 20
Our daughter was born at 32.5 weeks, weighed 3lb 3oz, (went down to 2lb 14oz before she started to gain) had IUGR, and spent five weeks in the NICU.

She took a while to learn to eat, that was the last requirement to taking her home and it seemed to take forever. She also hated her feeding tube and had become quite expert at pulling out, no matter how much tape they used. She had such a hard time bf, we ended up bottle feeding just to get her out of there. She weighed 5lb 5oz the day we brought her home.

Honestly I had a terrible time bonding. I loved her, but just didn't feel like I was her mother. We had been home over two weeks (on her due date) when I decided that I was going to bf her, exclusively, until we got it down. We had a hellish 24 hours or so, but it worked and she has been bf ever since. It was bf that did the trick for us. We bonded and she hasn't wanted me to put her down since, lol, and I don't mind.

We tried to let her sleep in her crib, but I was so nervous without the monitors telling me how she was, I ended up letting her sleep with me. We both slept better after that and I have no regrets. They told us in the NICU that we wouldn't be able to co-sleep with her.

I should mention that we also stopped supplementing her milk with formula after we brought her home. She stopped spitting up and was no longer constipated.

We haven't noticed any long term ill effects from being in the NICU. She is a happy healthy little girl! Yes, the first couple weeks were really hard, but that would be the case even if she had been born at home.

The only trouble I have now is figuring out where she is age/age adjusted verses development, but each baby is different anyway, so I don't think it really matters.

Oh, and Congratulations!
post #11 of 20
My DD, born at 28 weeks 0 days, was IUGR and weighed 1 lb 8 oz. We were in the NICU until 2 days past her due date, and she was released still weighing under 4 lbs. She just would not gain weight that satisfied their growth curves. She was nursing and growing, though and there were no other medical reasons to keep her in the hospital. They finally calculated that based on *her* growth rate, it would take another 5 weeks for her to weigh 5+ lbs and they couldn't justify keeping her. At 3 1/2, she is still not on the charts for her weight, but is for height. She eats a wide variety of food, and is healthy. She is very attached to me and her dad, and except for her speech being slightly delayed, she seems to suffer no ill effects from her NICU stay. Once I got her home, she was pretty much attached to me 24/7.

She never did go through any stages of seperation anxiety, never meets a stranger and automatically assumes that every adult will think she's special. I attribute this to all the medical professionals we had to work with the first few years of her life.

As an aside, it is very common for preemies to be sleepy . . .
post #12 of 20
pak-

lilah was 8 weeks early due to Pre-E/ PIH and she was IUGR too. I was 31w6d. she was 2lbs 5oz and 14.5in.

She was in the NICU for 7 weeks exactly. we kangaroo'ed every day (highly recommend) but i still felt a detach. i vistited her twice a day nearly every day. i was lucky enought to have sick days to carry me through to summer break, so i had a baby on good friday of spring break asnd just didn't go back.

we tried BF, but she just didn't "get it" so I pump. Have been pumpiong since 4/10. we supplement with neosure and beneprotein. in the hosp, the weight gain started out slowly, but once she got to t he mid 4 punds, it started taking off. we had a hard time once we wwent to cue-based PO (by mouith) bc she was just a slow bottle feeder. I was very adamant that she get BM unless I ran out- even if thy had to wait 30 minutes for me to pump.

she's 3 months old. she still drinks from a bottle (BM) and only does 60 a feed. Still, she's gaining so much that the ped told me today to stop fortifying.

As to bonding- some days I feel a slight disconnect which i think is a touch of PPD and my own personal struggle in recovering from the trauma of the NICU. truly, it is the hardest thing i have done to this point in my life. BUT... she knows I'm mama and he's daddy. and now we are bonded! it's really wonderful. and in some ways, i think that it's stronger because of the experience.

We had a medical university- the hbest in our state- nationally ranked- big on kangaroo, cue based, less regimented care. They really were big on not overstimulating the babies- they tell you that the preemies GROW when they are sleeping. So it sounds like yours is working hard to grow. And they were big on BF.

i'm sorry this is so scattered- i'm trying to pump and lilah is being fussy for her daddy.

anyway- let yours rest and grow, continue the BF, and it *does* get better. The bonding will definite;y happen. And YOU will heal and believe it or not, there are moments of peace.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandgeek View Post
My DD was in the NICU for 7 1/2 weeks and I had no trouble bonding with her...although I didn't really feel it happened until AFTER we brought her home. Late is better than never right? It was just stressful in the hospital and I couldn't relax with her
I think it is an IUGR thing too. I didn't totally bond with my daughter until we came home either. She was very sleepy and nursing was a horrible struggle, but being alone with her, having privacy to try to nurse and talk to her (and smell her normal baby smell, not the plasticy smell from all the apparatus in the box and hospital stuff) made a huge difference. I truly thought that since it took weeks before she nursed, that it would never work, but it DID. She had to gain a lot of weight before it worked, but it worked. Things will be better when you get her home. My daughter didn't get a lot of holding either because of her weight (had to be in the box all the time), but she is actually so relaxed, and happy, and easy to be with - WAY easier than my older son who was full term.

It will be ok And the NICU is an awful thing to have to go through no matter how big your baby is or how far along they were so don't feel like you have to "apologize" to parents with smaller, sicker, or younger babies for feeling upset....your baby and your needs are just as valid as any of them.
post #14 of 20
My daughter was born at 32 weeks and stayed in the NICU for almost one month. I did have some trouble bonding with her at the very beginning, although I didn't realize it until we actually HAD bonded a month or so later. I think this is normal considering that I only got to hold her once or twice per day for a month. I did breastfeed her successfully for over a year (had to wean as I am pregnant again and just can't stand the sensation at this point) so it's definitely possible, you just have to KEEP GOING no matter what. My baby was very, very tired at first and could only suck for a few minutes at a time, so in the beginning I had to do a lot of pumping and bottle feeding as well. By three months old she would not accept a bottle at all.

One thing that I think helped with the bonding was that I basically held her almost constantly for the first month. I didn't do this on purpose, I was just too scared to put her down, I even went pee while holding her! Her weight skyrocketed after she came home, she gained several pounds in the first month, which I attribute partially to the amount of physical contact she was getting.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbrinton View Post
And one more, sort of funny thought...

We do notice a few NICU effects these days now that Zephan is 8 months old. He seems to have an affinity for nurses, social workers, therapists, or other attentive females. He is such a flirt. I think it's because he had all those nurses in the hospital. .
So funny... Georgie has a huge distrust of any in scrubs. He finally started smiling at our chiro- and she also the doula at his birth! He joke he's the child most likely to reject western medicine!
post #16 of 20
My daughter was born at 29 1/2 weeks, weighing 1 lb 14 oz, so IUGR as well. She spent 9 1/2 weeks in the NICU. I struggled with bonding at first, but it came about. DD has always been an extremely snuggly child. She was a high maintenance baby, but picking her up was always enough to quiet her. I think the IUGR babies tend to take a little longer to get the feeding routine down. In addition to learning the suck, swallow and breather routine, they have to expend extra energy just trying to maintain their body temperatures. All that can wear a little girl out! Hang in there, she will will get it all together soon (and it may happen faster than you think. We saw lots of kids who went from not ready to discharge in just a couple of days. It was as if someone had flipped a switch.) We had no luck nursing at home (I went back to work right away), but I worked with the lactation consultant at first with the goal to nursing at home. It can be done, even if she is mostly having bottles now. Just keep in mind that she will be still be little when she gets out, so it may take her more effort and time than it would a different baby.

As long as your daughter is gaining on HER OWN growth curve, try not to worry too hard about her size. My own DD was nowhere near 'normal' size for her age until she was 4. Since she always maintained her own growth curve, the dr never worried.

BTW, I hope the nursing works out for you. However, if it does not, bonding won't suffer. DD refused to nurse at all once we got home, so we had to go to pumped milk. DD has always thought I hung the moon. Even at 8, she still thinks I'm pretty cool and specifically asks for mom time when she feels the need.

Paula
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for your stories and words of encouragement. I am such a ditz, I posted this thread, forgot I posted it, and never returned to read the replies until now! I want to say that my daughter is now home, after 12 days int he NICU. She had a checkup with her pediatrician yesterday and she is up to 5lbs 1oz. I amw odnering if I should ditch the bottles like some of you said. She is supposed to be supplemented with Neosure twice a day, but I have been just giving formula in a bottle (no EBM in bottles!) because she doesn't like the taste of formula, and I started thinking, maybe she would not like bottle either if everytime she got one, it tasted like crap! Lol

I can't seem to get a good latch with her. I have large breasts and large areolas, and it seems like I can't get the whole thing in her mouth.. she is still tiny! I am trying my best, and she is drinking, but won't stay awake/latched on for longer than 10 mins, then I burp, and then I have the problem of her not getting enough and not wanting to open again to latch on to the other breast, or even to the same one. I had this problem this morning, she latched on and drank for like 6 mins on one and 3 mins on the other and passed out. Then she wole up an hour later, hungry, so I caved and gave her an oz of formula and she was fine. Maybe I should just put her back on the breast? I am worried that she will use too much energy if I do that, and then she will just lose weight. I just don't know anymore...
post #18 of 20
sounds like you're doing great! Just keep it up, she will get the hang of it. I did supplement my breast milk with Human Growth Fortifier (they gave me a bunch of it before she was discharged) a few times per day, then I went down to one bottle per day eventually, then she began to refuse the bottle altogether. Maybe check into the cost of HGF, I think Enfamil makes it. You just add a little bit to pumped breast milk.
post #19 of 20
DS was 37 weeks, and plenty big (8lb8oz) and still acted just like your daughter on the breast for a good 6 weeks. Yes he was big and technically he was term but he was still a very sleepy baby and keeping him awake to nurse was impossible!

I bet your pedi will be happy to do weight checks whenever you want. We didn't even need to call- we could just drop by and the nurses would weigh him. So if you are worried, just bring her in and check. Then you will know right away whether the bottle thing is making a difference.
post #20 of 20
I had the same nursing issues with my 36 weeker. I saw a lactation consultant and ended up using nipple shields for about 2-3 weeks and then slowly weaned her off of them. I wouldn't jump right to this, it was the advice of the lc. is there any way you can get a consult with one?

Another thing we did was to undress her or to tickle her or put cool cloths on her to keep her awake a little longer. I fed her every 2 hours around the clock for about her first 3-4 weeks. She was 5 pounds 4 ounces at birth and by 2 months was 10 pounds 8 ounces.
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