This was my 3rd pregnancy . I was over 30 and very anxious and excited at the same time. I had two older children who were girls and I was expecting my first son. But premature rupture of membrane, over worked, highly stressed, led to my first son Daniel being a preemie. This threw my life and my little family’s life into a world of unknown’s. After the delivery he was grunting with low oxygen levels, so he was rushed away and flown out to a larger University Hospital NICU . I was in overall good health, medication free birth, I was able to leave the hospital in under 12 hours with my doctors approval.
He was doing well in the days following his birth, he was only on TPN (Total parenteral nutrition) for a short period, then on a NG (Naso Gastric ) tube feeding . So the first few days were a frenzy of pumping and storing milk. 10 days later Daniel was ready to begin breastfeeding. I was not intimidated by breastfeeding my first two daughters fed very well no latch problems. The first days went pretty well with Daniel.
He was nursing well and released to go home. Two days later after weighing diapers and keeping up with the amount of nursing he was doing He was losing weight! I was so upset and scared. The next day I took him for a check up and it brought more bad news, his bilirubin levels were not decreasing. The doctor suggested to supplement with more a special neo formula via bottle. I did.
But over the next couple of days he was still at the same weight and I was getting ready to break down. I just continued to breastfeed supplement with the neo milk and much pumping he finally began to gain weight. Although his sucking reflex was very poor we still nursed as much as he could without getting tired.
So remember when you start Breastfeeding your preemie it will not be the same.
His/her latch will be harder to accomplish and you might have to many positions and many latch techniques at every feeding just to facilitate feeding.
His/her sucking reflex will be much weaker so he/she will tire more easily and may need to be supplemented with a bottle.
You know your baby is getting enough milk when he/she has 6 to 8 wet diapers and 6-8 stools a day. Sounds like a lot but your baby has to have proper elimination to get rid of waste in the blood stream.
Feeding positions with optimal latching are the football and cross cradle hold because the preemie needs extra neck and jaw support than full term babies.
Remember that baby needs that skin to skin so Kangaroo care is encouraged this is where baby is held skin to skin with mommy very closely as many hours a day as possible. Nursing is a perfect time for this and it promotes a more natural nursing secession.
Express a few drops of milk from your nipple before attempting to latch the baby.
A chin first latch (Bring your baby towards you, chin first then gently press between your baby’s shoulders with the palm of your hand that is supporting baby.) can be helpful with a preemie.
Use a nipple shield if needed. Use for weak sucking relex.
You can use a U hold to support your breast, with this you can also use compression to encourage sucking especially in a sleepy baby.
How do you know that your baby has a good latch?
You will feel tugging but no pain, although discomfort is normal for the first few weeks.
Baby’s lower lip is rolled out.Most of the areola is in baby’s mouth, with chin touching breast with a small space between baby’s nose and breast.
If you are still having trouble breastfeeding baby, consult a breast feeding specialist or consultant.
*****This advice is only a helpful guide not to be substituted for medical advice that your healthcare provider or Lactation Specialist can provide. ******