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Help for mama of a preemie...

621 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  dani76
A good friend of mine just delivered yesterday at 32 weeks. The baby is good, but will be in the NICU for a few weeks. She is wanting to bf, but the nurses are saying that baby won't suckle yet. The hospital is telling her that they have mama milk on hand to give the baby. She's going to pump, but I have a feeling that she will get discouraged, rather than encouraged.

If you had a preemie, what really helped you out. I really want to support them through this. I have offered my milk until hers comes in, but I know her milk is best. Can you do kangaroo care for a baby born at 32 weeks?

I'm cross-posting this in Life with a Babe as well. Thanks mamas!
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My DD#1 was born at 33 weeks. We were in a terrible NICU and they told me I would never leave there breastfeeding. She was too little and did not have her suck swallow reflex yet, so we had a gastro/nasal tube put it (it goes in their nose and down to their stomach) and I would put her to the breast and then we'd put breastmilk in the tube. That way she was getting the feeling of being full, while being at the breast. After doing that for a week, she started to try and suckle, but was having problems latching on due to her size and my nipples being flatish. I got some nipple shields and that REALLY helped her be able to get milk. She caught on really quickly after I got the nipple shields and was an outstanding nurser after that. We did get out of the NICU EBF and I weaned her from the nipple sheild when she was about two months old.

I would advise your friend to pump, pump, pump. That way her supply will come in quickly and then when they can put the baby to breast, there will be a lot for the baby to work with. I found it was helpful to have relatively full breasts to try and nurse DD because then I would have a little letdown even w/out her sucking.

She can totally do kangaroo care as soon as the NICU will allow it. I wasn't allowed to hold DD until she was five days old, which was soooo hard, but once I was, we spent 90% of the time holding her. We even came in for all the night feedings and held her while she slept.

Good luck to your friend and her family. I know it seems like a terrible infinity when you are in there, but she'll be out in no time!
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Thanks so much. I feel like I want to be there with them and we aren't even super close. I know how stressful it is to wrestle with your mothering instincts and people telling you what to do. I don't want her to give up. I know that pumping will be hard, but so worth it in the end. I'm hoping to go and see her tomorrow.
DD was born at 30 weeks. She should absolutely be able to do kangaroo care, it is so beneficial for prems. Monitors, O2 and other tubes can be worked around, and it usually helps bring up their sats and they keep snug and warm.

As far as breastfeeding went, I think we succeeded in spite of the nursing staff. They seemed very uncomfortable with it, and rarely were encouraging. The LC on staff was better, but never around. she should get the ok from the dr, and give it a try. We started at about 32 weeks with very short sessions once a day, and gradually progressed to twice a day. She didn't latch or suck in the beginning, it was more like practice for when she got stronger and for me to get comfortable.

At 35 weeks I decided to try nippling her with a preemie sized nipple, against the advice of the LC, because I hated seeing her gag and resist everytime they placed the feeding tube. At this point she still hadn't latched on me, but she was able to drink from the bottle very well. Within two days she was finally latching, we had been trying every feed, and within a week was completely breastfed, no artificial nipples, and we were discharged from the hospital.

Pumping is hard, but like the PP said, she'll need to do it a lot. If her milk supply starts to dwindle, she needs to make sure she's pumping every 3 hours like clockwork and through the night as well. I found even one missed session could affect my supply. Pumping beside the baby was helpful, too. I got a lot more than going to a separate room. The first week of pumping I barely got a 1/2 ounce each time, but every little bit was saved and used.

Good luck to your friend- she is lucky to have a caring friend like you!
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Do you get Mothering magazine? There's a great article in this month's issue on preemies/breastfeeding/kangaroo care by Christine Gross-Loh. You should get it to her ASAP as it has lots of resources and may help boost her confidence to stand her ground if need be that bf/kangaroo care is the scientifically documented way to go for preemies!
I do, but I haven't received that issue yet. Thanks!
it's hard NOT to get discouraged every now and then when your baby is in the NICU. My Sara was born at 34weeks and spent 11 days in the NICU. Fortunately for us, our NICU wasn't bad at all. They pushed breastfeeding very strongly, Sara's nurse was CONSTANTLY either at her isolette or holding her when we came in, they bent rules here and there for us, and they kept us updated whenever something good or bad happened. There was a pumping room for moms with rockers and fridges for water and food and a few Ameda pumps. Milk was always asked for and you were provided with the bottles and labels and they reminded you to take care of yourself with food and water and sleep but to keep pumping. I broke down and cried on day 2 when I was getting 2 or 3 drops of colostrum only and Sara was getting formula and the nurse hugged me and told me that some people don't even get that and that I was doing wonderfully. Next time I went in there were several nurses who saw my milk and said how buttery yellow and rich and healthy it looked(all 3 drops of it). They knew I was stressed and even those few kind words helped. Making sure MOM takes care of herself is key. I would have killed for a stash of water and healthy snacks in my car for the 3 times daily drive to the hospital. Mom needs to pump every 2 hours around the clock and save every single drop she gets. Drink lots, eat well. Lots and lots of skin to skin contact in the NICU is wonderful for baby but it also will help bring mom's milk in and make her feel more connected to her baby. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that this little tiny fragile thing in a plastic box covered in iv's and wires is actually your child. Kangaroo care helps tremendously. Buying a few sweet little outfits(for when baby comes out into a bassinet) helps make things more real. Sara was 8 days old when she put on her first real clothing. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was her first day out of the isolette and I put her in a little hat, booties, and a onesie. She of course was swaddled in two blankets but I admired her "clothing" for a minute while I dressed her and she finally felt like mine. What really really helps is to take over the duties of the nurses as much as possible. Have mom take baby's temp when she goes in and change baby's diaper and try nursing while baby has NG feeds. Mom should read baby's chart and ask as many questions as she can. The more she knows, the better off she will be. If baby needs new linens, mom can situate them in the isolette after the nurse gets them. The more she does for her baby, the more connected she will feel. My daughter started projectile vomitting one day and her doctor and nurse couldnt' figure it out. I had read her chart and realized they upped her fortifier to 24 calorie instead of 22 and suggested that maybe it was too rich. They took her back down to 22 cal and she stopped. It felt good to make a medical decision for my baby when eveything else was so completely out of my hands.
Preemies are so special. Each one is a little miracle. congratulations to your friend on her little miracle baby. She's very lucky to have a friend like you who wants to support her. It will be a rough road, even after baby comes home. There are so many worries and so many ups and downs. But it gets better and they grow up so fast. Sara is 15months old now and 21lbs and nearly completely caught up developmentally but it was a rough road in the beginning few months.

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Thanks so much! I know her husband was saying that she had tried pumping, and nothing came out. I told DH to tell him that even though the baby came early, her body will produce milk for her babe. And that any colustrum she can give him is awesome!
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