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Weak suction?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
My preemie is 4 weeks old today (37 weeks gestation) and he still can't breastfeed very well. I pumped exclusively for the first two weeks. After that we were doing some trial nursing once or twice a day. I was still mostly pumping because bottle is easier for him. They don't want him to get too tired from eating. After two weeks of this I'm still only nursing him twice a day. He keeps falling asleep and just couldn't get much milk out of me. He could suck a bottle (Avent with newborn nipple) down in 10 minutes, though. I'm just worried he's used to bottles now and will not be able to suck harder. I was having let-downs during nursing but he's not getting much of it, because when I pump after nursing the milk just gushed out, and I was emptied in a few minutes.

Am I wrong to expect baby to suck as hard as breast pump can? (I'm renting a hospital grade pump, I never needed more than half the suction on it.) I can get about 30% more than what he needs right now by pumping. I thought that would mean I have enough for nursing as well?
post #2 of 6
I am not a professional anything other than mother and never had this problem with my dd's, so I really don't know what I am talking about. That said, if I were in your shoes I would nurse nurse nurse. I would, personally, drop the bottles. It seems like the bottle could become a habit. Your baby is strong enough to get what he needs from you. It is a little tougher getting milk from a breast than from a bottle, but it is harder because it helps their little jaws and mouth muscles develop right. He will not starve. If he is healthy in every way I would drop the bottles and just nurse as often as he needs/want to. You might have to nurse all day, not uncommon with new babies.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
That's where the problem is. His doctor doesn't want him to use too much energy eating. They say it's most important for a preemie to eat enough and gain weight. I can't wait until he's big and strong so we can risk it a little bit and do this nurse around the clock thing.
post #4 of 6
I am not sure about this but I don't understand why nursing is harder than bottle feeding. With nursing, the baby applies suction and then just has to swallow to keep up with the letdown - whereas with bottlefeeding the baby has to keep sucking.

OK, I just went and looked this up in Dr. Jack Newman's Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers and he says it is a myth that it is easier for a premature baby to take a bottle than a breast. Research shows that premature babies are less stressed by the breast than by the bottle.

This work has shown that a premature baby is likely to remain warmer and maintain his oxygen and carbon dioxide levels better, and is less likely to stop breathing or have his heart rate fall when he is on the breast than if he is taking a bottle. If a baby is ready for a bottle, in other words, he has been ready for the breast for a while already.
It is [also] a myth that they need to be of a certain gestational age (say, 34 weeks) or a certain weight (say, 4 pounds) before they can be "allowed to take the breast.
I wonder whether your doctor knows much about breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, if he's not familiar with this research. Most doctors (peds or obs) know very little about breastfeeding, and don't keep up with the research.

I would strongly recommend getting an IBCLC certified lactation consultant to help you wean your baby from bottles and get him to the breast ASAP. It may take some time (it takes full term babies time to learn how to breastfeed, and that's without nipple preference issues) and the sooner you start the better.

Good luck, and get some expert help! LLL is also a great source of advice and support.
post #5 of 6
Congratulations on your baby! You were smart to start pumping so early. Have you talked to the hospital Lactation Consultant about this? Doctors are usually just interested in weight gain at the expense of anything else. Lactation Consultant should be more helpful about combining weight gain with nursing. If there isn't one at your hospital, I'd try finding one in your area. I don't know anything about nursing a preemie but my full term dd is now 10 weeks and I'm still pumping cause I can't get her off the bottles. She still thinks bottles are easier! I'm also using Avent Newborn nipple. I started out syringe finger feeding though. Did your hospital suggest any other feeding methods? I wish I'd got an LC sooner than I did. The hospital LC was great for advice and advocacy but for intensive home help, a private one was really necessary. I never knew they existed when I had dd!! How about LLL? They're great for referrals in your local area.
post #6 of 6
oops double post (!@#% computer and server! )
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