All I can say is...help!
My little girl was born prematurely at 30 weeks of gestation. Her sucking/gag reflexes, etc. (everything needed to BF), were not developed sufficiently yet for her feed by bottle or breast, so she had to start on tube feedings. During her month stay in the NICU, she was primarily fed by bottle with my pumped milk, and we kept trying to introduce the breast to her when I could be there. She has now been home with us for about 6 weeks, and is growing well. My original due date with her was Oct 23rd, so we are just now reaching "normal" newborn size, energy level, etc. It has been very difficult as I was determined to BF before she was born, still am, but our relationship has gotten off to a rocky start. I don't know what to do!
Our usual feeding routine has been to BF for as long as I can keep her awake/interested, then give her a bottle of pumped breastmilk until she is satisfied, and then once she's asleep I'll pump whatever is left and store it for future bottles. I have several concerns with this routine. For one, her latch doesn't look/feel right to me, and she is not draining the breast. She'll nurse for about 10-20 minutes each side, but does not act satisfied and my breasts still feel full or nearly full. Nursing tends to push my pumping sessions fewer and farther inbetween because of the time it takes to nurse/bottle feed her, whereas when she was in the NICU, I'd pump every 2-3 hours 24/7. So, I'm a little worried my supply will go down. I also don't get much if any sleep doing things this way because I'm pulling double duty, BF, bottle, and pumping. So, I can tell sleep deprivation is hurting my supply sometimes, too.
I really want to transition her to exclusive BF, but don't know how. I think her latch is the main concern, and I probably need to talk to a LC, but getting out in cold weather with a preemie is not exactly encouraged. She looks like she is not opening her mouth wide enough/getting enough breast in her mouth. She'll also tends to grab with her lips and try "slurping" the nipple, all of which don't get her much milk except for the initial let-down. Besides talking to LC, any ideas/suggestions on how I can teach her to latch on correctly? Once she does latch on properly, is it ok to stop bottles entirely, or would can I transition gradually? I just don't want her to lose weight or "starve". I've heard both things, so I don't which is right. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!