I had a premie - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-17-2003, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had my son a week ago. He was exactly 33 weeks. He was expected to stay in hospital for at least a month. The hospital is quite supportive of breastfeeding and encouraged me to pump. Well, since I can't do anything else to help him right now I thought I'd do that.

The problem is I'm not getting much milk from pumping. I've had supply issues with my first baby and tried everything. Everybody told me I'll make more milk for subsequent babies. Well, now I got a baby who can't nurse for a month or more, I'll never find out if I'm making more milk this time or not. Pumping doesn't work very well for me and there's no way I can keep up a good supply.

I am hoping that once he starts nursing (if he can latch at all), my supply will increase. Is that possible? All I heard is your milk supply is pretty much established in the first couple weeks. I really don't want to do both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Is there any hope I can still breastfeed him exclusively later?

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Old 03-17-2003, 01:19 PM
 
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Hi there.

My ds was born at 36 weeks and had to be in the NICU for a week.

After 2 days of pumping...I stopped getting any milk. I was very upset about that. But I just continued to pump.

Once I could hold my son, I was able to get milk with pumping. I would hold him, cuddle him then bring one of his blankets into the pump room with me and lay it around my neck so that I could smell him.

Another thing that helped me was to stand around babies that were crying. Ds was on a vent, so didn't cry (though he probably wanted to). It seemed to help with the mothering horomones.

Once he was getting tube fed, I would hold him for the feeding, then go pump right afterwards.

Good luck - and do keep with it. Moms that have preemies have special milk that the preemie needs. It will work out! Be determined. Speak to a LC at the hospital for help.

And remember that when it is time for your baby to eat by mouth...nursing is less stressful for a baby than the bottle.

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Old 03-17-2003, 01:38 PM
 
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My dd was bprn at 34 weeks and they said she would be in for at least 4 weeks probably closer to six. They said most babies stay in until about thier due date. Madeline ended yp staying in for eactly seven days. You didn't mention what challeneges you face but it has been my experiance and the experiance of other people I know that they way over estimate. They do this so that if your baby does have to stay a little longer than they really expected you won't be dissapointed. If he has no infection is breathing and gaining it shouldn't be too long maybe a week or two.

What kind of pump are you using. Use a hospital grade poump. EVenthe pump in style is not a good enough pump for this. Make sure it is hooked up and working properly. secondly, you may need to [ump more often. I opumped bo0th sides for 15-30 minutes every 2-3 hours and I did pump about 2 times during the night even though they told me not to bother. The hormones that control production are triggered in larger amounts when pumping/feeding at night. so you may want to start waking at night to pump.

Good luck to you and your babe. Whether they are on life support or just being held hostage it is so painful to leave your child in the NICU. remeber, you are paying them. You have the right to make them do it your way. Don't wait for them to help you. If you want to hold your baby then hold them. If you need a lactation consutant go down to her office and get her. If the nurses tel you can't hold him nurse him whatever ask the neonatologist if he says no come here and ask us experianced mamas.

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Old 03-17-2003, 01:51 PM
 
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One thing that might help that I've heard about is putting the milk into special bottles--I think they call them graduated tubes, or something tlike that...sorry, this is from memory from a talk I heard an LC give on supporting the preemie mom. The babe only needs a tiny bit of milk anyway; in thiose bottles, an amount that would barely cover the bottom of a standard bottle would fill them up a few inches.
And like someone else said, that milk is high-test...much higher, by like 20 times higher in the fat that the baby needs to help the immmature nervous system develop...

Put worries about sucking into the future. Now you have to take care of yourself and mother your babe. Good luck..and congrats on your baby's birth.
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Old 03-18-2003, 03:24 AM
 
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CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of your baby!

You can do this!

There are many ways to boost your milk supply.

First, spend as much time with your baby as possible, skin to skin care (kangaroo care) is best. It will nurture your baby so much to be next to your breasts, even if he isn't nursing right away. Let him nuzzle or lick your nipples if he wants.

Second, drink lots of water to stay well hydrated. I mean lots. Try to stay away from caffeinated drinks and sodas because they will dehydrate you.

Third, remember you need to eat and eat healthily. I know it's tough when your baby's in the NICU (mine started out there too) but you need to keep up your calories. Have people bring you food from home, and keep things like packages of instant oatmeal, etc. that you can just add hot water to for a healthy (lactation-boosting) meal.

Fourth, you can take lactation-promoting herbs to help boost your supply. A good combination is fenugreek and blessed thistle, 3-4 capsules of each 3 times a day. Nettle, alfalfa, and fennel are other good herbs. You should be able to get fenugreek at least at your local health food store.

Fifth, you can use domperidone to safely increase your supply. Here's some information about it: link. It has fewer side effects than Reglan. This thread has more information including how to order it.

Sixth, this recent thread has a lot of helpful advice on how to breastfeed your NICU baby.

Seventh *but very important* call your local La Leche League leader and an IBCLC certified lactation consultant for help and support. They will be a great resource for you and can really help you maximize the effectiveness of pumping, as well as get your baby off to the best possible start breastfeeding.

Eighth, know that you can do this! A lot of moms on this board have done it, and we are here to support you. It's so tough, but it is doable! Even if your baby is on formula supplements, even if he's bottle fed for a while, you can get him back to the breast 100 percent.

Hang in there!

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Old 03-18-2003, 12:29 PM
 
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Congrats on the new baby!
The mommas here have given you a lot of great info. I have nothing to add! Just wanted to give you encouragement and tell you that you are wonderful for giving your baby your milk. It is the greatest gift that no one but you can give. You can do it! Keep reaching out for help!
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Old 03-18-2003, 01:13 PM
 
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Hi, Congratulations on your new baby! Preemies are very special children and you will certainly be amazed my this new miracle. My dd, Justice, was born at 32 weeks and was in the hospital for 14 days. She was a perfect 3 lb 13 oz baby who didn't even need oxygen. I can't give you any advice on breastfeeding, that isn't something that was an option for me, but I can give you all the advice you need on preemie parenting! Justice is almost 8 yrs old and while she is still very small, 40 lbs, she is incredible! Feel free to email me with any questions! I love talking preemies!

Good Luck to you and your family,

Laura
wife to Boue
Pround mommy of 2 preemies, Justice 32 weeker 6/22/95 and Kaeleb 36 weeker 2/8/03
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Old 03-19-2003, 02:57 AM
 
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I was in the same situation. My dd was born at 32 weeks and I was unable to put her to the breast until she was 7 days old. I was pumping half an oz. from both breast combined! I am an OB nurse so I was used to seeing moms of premies bring tons of bottles of bm to the hospital for their babies. I really thought something was wrong with me. She got out of the hospital after 10 days and we started bf everyother hour. She was back in the hospital a week later for hypothermia. Her very unsupportive of bf ped. wanted me to pump and bf her the bm so he could know exactly how much she was taking in. Over those next 3 days my milk I was pumping got less and less. We finally got to nurse again and have been ever since.

Just wanted to let you know you weren't the only one having this kind of problem. You are doing a wonderful thing for your baby!!Please don't give up, bf is so worth it.
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Old 03-20-2003, 01:08 AM
 
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Poddi, how's your baby doing? I've been thinking about you. Let us know
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Old 03-20-2003, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the advices. My little guy has been doing pretty well. He's breathing on his own now and has been fed by an NG tube. We'll try to make him take my breasts sometime soon. He doesn't have rooting reflex yet so maybe he needs a little more time.

I've been pumping and giving him whatever I have. I try not to stress too much about if I have enough or not right now. We'll work on that later when he can actually nurse.

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Old 03-22-2003, 12:31 AM
 
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Poddi, I feel deeply what you are going through. My dd and ds were born at 32 weeks. They were very healthy, but 32 weeks is 32 weeks. Yes, I pumped all the time. My milk came in on day 6 (on the late side) and the only way to get my production to increase was to pump every 3 hours, on the nose, around the clock no matter what. Since I knew I'd have a schedule like that (or worse!) once the twins were home from the hospital anyway, I made sure to do the middle of the night feedings even though I was exhausted from a long labor and the whole emotional worry of it all. I used to tell myself "time to feed the babies!" for those 11PM, 2AM, and 5AM pumping sessions - somehow it made me feel better.

I'm sure you already know this by now, but what you need from the hospital are the VoluFeeds. Those are 60cc (2oz.) pumping containers and they give you lots of sterilized nipples to cover them with. As a side note, make sure to keep a handful of these -- they make the BEST mini-bottles for giving medicine in a little milk!! (almost all preemies need Iron drops and often many other types of things, and these little bottles so much better than a medicine dropper... e.g., iron tastes AWFUL!!)

In terms of timing for putting the baby on the breast, just make sure the NICU knows you want it as soon as possible. And as long as you are able to "kangaroo" with him, i.e., putting him undressed against your bare chest, it doesn't hurt to have her nuzzled by your breast... he may even latch on and surprise you!! Those are still some of my happiest memories ever. Our NICU was extremely supportive of BFing... the research is so definitive and so well publicized that preemie breat milk is the absolute best thing for preemies (high fat, high protein, etc.), that they want you to give whatever you pump. Make sure you give the freshest when you can... e.g., if you're pumping in the pumping room, have them give that milk to the baby at the next feeding, since then it will be even richer in antibodies, etc.

This is probably going to sound horrendous to most moms who never had preemies under 34 weeks, but you do want to make sure that while he gets his NG feeds that he is sucking on SOMETHING. If it's your breast, great. Otherwise, it could be your pinky (ultra clean with no nail!) or a pacifier when you're not there. He needs to associate sucking with a full belly. This will help develop his desire to root and suck. It should be coming soon.

Also, a Newborn nipple shield made by Medela is sometimes helpful at getting a preemie to take the breast. No, I don't mean using it forever, but many preemies get used to sucking on a pacifier and/or a bottle before the breast, and you want their first experiences at the breast to be easy/stress-free for them. If your baby has trouble latching on, ask the LC about these. The LC at our recommended it. I hand expressed a little first to get the flow going and get milk in the resevoir. It worked great. However, the goal of course is to transition your baby off of it around the time he approaches full term if not before. I just mention it because I think a lot of us have a knee jerk reaction to nipple shields but in the case of preemies, sometimes they are really needed.

There are a lot of other things you can do to help if your baby is having trouble latching on. Finger feeding with a supplement tube (e.g., the Medela Supplemental Nursing System, or SNS) is a good way to get a baby with a weak suck to develop the suck without getting used to a bottle.

All in all, every day makes a difference. Do not get discouraged if he is not a breastfeeding pro. My ds latched on by 36 weeks equiv. but my dd needed intensive help with my LC and didn't really "get it" until she was 2.5 months old (i.e., 2 weeks past my due date). Hang in there. It is worth it more than anything. Preemies need your milk even more than full-term babies need their mommy's milk. A full term baby has antibodies already from mommy, but a preemie does not. They also need extra help "catching up" in size, and your rich milk is just the thing. Last but not least, their weak immune systems and digestive systems need all the support they can get. Even if you can only pump a couple of ounces, that is benefitting him so much. It really is liquid gold.

You and your ds will be in my thoughts!
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