The Emotional Side of Breastfeeding Preemies

One night while watching TV, my husband cracked a joke and I started laughing. Being 34 weeks pregnant, I wet my pants. As I went to the bathroom to take care of the situation, I noticed the pee wasn’t stopping. I assumed it was just a leaking issue (I thought I had heard of that being a pregnancy symptom). After putting on a pad and returning to the couch for more of the show, I soon found my pad and pants soaked through and the couch even a little wet. Hmmm. Maybe that wasn’t pee. I was in complete denial that this could possibly mean early labor and decided to just ignore it all. One of my best friends whose due date was the day after mine had delivered her baby at 30 weeks. I knew what she was going through and denied the possibility of it happening to me. My preemie was born sixteen hours later.

While I still was able to deliver Burkley completely naturally, gone were my hopes, dreams, and plans of bringing my new little slimy, wriggly baby right up to my chest for some of that long awaited skin-to-skin bonding and breastfeeding whenever and however much he wanted. Instead, he was whisked away from me and taken to the NICU while I sat in recovery getting a little episiotomy stitched without a baby and without my husband, who had gone with our son. My doula stayed with me, and after a couple of hours of waiting and visiting with family, I got to go see my son.

Later that night, my doula said to me, “you should go pump.”

And thus began my NICU pumping/breastfeeding adventure. I learned a lot during this time and hope to offer some information for anyone else who might find they are in a similar situation.

I really do believe that choosing to breastfeed your child takes determination and a quality support system. So many moms hit roadblocks and Booby Traps and find that breastfeeding is causing more stress than bonding and more pain than pleasure; consequently, they decide it is in their best interests to stop.

Articles have been written regarding pumping, supplementing, and breastfeeding your premature baby, and those resources are wonderful, helpful tools. I know I spent many hours on Kellymom in our early weeks reading up on all I could to make sure my supply would build adequately and my preemie would eventually be able to latch on all by himself (which he eventually did without a shield at 6 weeks old), but nothing could prepare me for the emotional component of breastfeeding a preemie. Two of the things that helped me the most emotionally were determination and a strong support system.

Determination

If I had not pre-determined during my pregnancy that I would, no ifs-and-or-buts about it, nurse my baby, I’m not sure if I would have been able to deal with nursing a preemie. I had done my research and was doggedly determined to wow the naysayers in my life and prove to them that nursing can be successful and wonderful. I know other moms whose babies surprised their families and friends by coming far earlier than mine. Moms of breastfed preemies all have the determination and stubbornness needed to buck a system telling you that the baby needs “more” to grow healthily. Endless hours are spent pumping, washing pump parts, feeding through NG tubes, using a supplementary nursing system (SNS) or lactation aid, nursing with nipple shields, or any other array of supplies and tools to help a weary mom get the job done. Why would people put themselves through all that effort?

Some moms of preemies find that if they want their babies to have breastmilk, it will only happen through exclusively pumping. This can be an extremely taxing experience. The rhythmic sound of the pump becomes as commonplace as one’s own breathing for these moms, and being hooked up to a machine can leave one feeling lonely and empty. It is especially difficult if your baby is in the NICU and you are at home, dutifully pumping while taking care of household duties, possibly other children, and dealing with other responsibilities. Leaving your baby in the NICU while you go to do anything can cause an overpowering feeling of guilt in a new mom. Visitors come and go and the adrenaline that’s keeping you awake and motivated can fade after the few days, weeks, or even months that some babies have to stay in the NICU. It can be devastating for a breastfeeding relationship when you’re separated from your baby by an incubator, wires, feeding tubes, oxygen supplies, and monitors.

Cheryl Morrissette, a NICU nurse in Fredericksburg, Virginia, writes that getting your preemie’s breastfeeding journey off to a good start often means pumping “early, often, and well.” Exclusive pumpers are driven by a force bigger than themselves. Hooking themselves up to that machine is empowering, as moms know that it is by this machine that their own breastmilk will get to their preemie, helping their baby grow strong and healthy faster and with more success than any other form of nutrition. And that’s why they put themselves through it: for their babies, for their own health as mothers, and for the emotional well-being of their mother-baby relationship. It takes determination, but it is all worth it.

Support System

While I was in the NICU, I saw several other families dealing with their own trials of having a preemie, but for the most part, everyone was cheerful and kind, and every room was bustling with visitors. However, there was one teen mom I noticed who often sat alone, gazing at her twin babies with a scared, forlorn look on her face. Once in awhile I’d see another young teen girl with her, maybe a friend, sister, or cousin- but mostly she sat alone. Not only did this young woman have twins, they were premature, and she appeared to not have a strong support system. I wonder how her breastfeeding journey went.

A quality support system is an integral part of any breastfeeding experience, but having that support for your preemie is really necessary. Some moms on the Facebook forum Breastmilk for Preemies shared with me that one of the best ways their spouses, family members, and friends showed support was by helping to clean and reassemble the pump — every single time. Bringing the nursing mother water and a snack was another way these support people helped encourage the moms to keep going. For me personally, the support of the NICU staff consistently encouraging me and congratulating me each time I’d bring in bottles of pumped milk really helped me stay motivated. Once we were home, my husband would wake up with me in the night and help hold Burkley’s arms (he’s a flailer!) while we both worked to get him latched on. Supportive family and friends are so important in those early days to help you feel comfortable and respected if you need to get comfortable nursing around them, or if you need to leave an event or a room, prop up some pillows, and enjoy some alone time with your nursing preemie.

Finding a support group like La Leche League or a preemie/NICU support group is also beneficial. It’s so helpful to be able to talk with people and share experiences with those who understand your trials and efforts. Finding an excellent lactation consultant who is willing to join you on your journey, even if it’s a long and bumpy one, is another quite helpful resource. An online forum and support network is one way we parents of preemies can connect that parents even a generation ago did not have. Groups like Preemie Parenting, Breastmilk for Preemies, Natural Parents Network (the forum or the Facebook communities), and La Leche League forums are just some of the online communities already in place out there in cyberspace.

While our beginning was not as easy as it is for some, many moms of preemies have it much harder than we did. Even with a challenge at the start, I’m so thankful we are happily traveling on the breastfeeding road, living in the moment and enjoying every turn.

__________________________

Adrienne is a first time mom to her mellow sweetie-pie, Burkley. Carrying her natural lifestyle over into her role of mother was a common-sense transition for this former elementary school teacher turned crunchy-mama. Research is her passion and her friends and family know that she is almost always ready with a stash of resources bookmarked to answer any of their natural parenting questions. While she admits to being on the computer more than she should be, she has been happily adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after moving back home to the Quad Cities (along the Mississippi River) from Chicago, by spending time with her family and newly found mom-friends. She is currently saving up money to become a certified postpartum doula. You can find Adrienne at Mommying My Way.

18 Responses to The Emotional Side of Breastfeeding Preemies

  1. Momma Jorje

    Great post! As I approach the birth of our son (in January) with Down syndrome, I will soon be meeting with a Lactation Consultant at our hospital. Of course we hope he won’t be premature, but it also recommended to have a plan in advance due to the nursing issues so common to newborns with Down syndrome.

  2. Kiza

    So glad to hear a preemie success story!

    My daughter – now 14 months old and a solid nurser – was born at 35 weeks and had a NICU stay. Since I had a toddler who was still nursing, I was able to stay with her the first three days, pumping, and my husband brought my son up to the hospital to nurse. It was very difficult emotionally to go home without her when the time came. I was lucky to have an AMAZING support system. I’d had a rocky start to breastfeeding with my son (even with that same support system) and was absolutely determined that I was NOT going to give up on nursing with my daughter. I pumped as much as I could. I pumped when my son nursed so that I could get some extra milk with that letdown. Our NICU nurses cheered every time I showed up with an ounce of milk for our daughter. The first time I was able to actually hold her and attempt to nurse (she was four days old and they’d been tubing breastmilk prior to that), it was amazing and kind of terrifying. She was still so little and there were so many wires and tubes and the attempt exhausted her. She came home from the hospital with not much interest in nursing at the breast, but took her mama milk quite happily from a bottle. So I’d nurse my son and pump for my daughter. It was exhausting. People, even in my support system, were judgmental. But she was getting the milk that she needed, and I felt that letting her get used to the breast on her own timetable was important. If she was stressed, she wouldn’t eat at all. It took a couple of months, but she eventually started splitting her feedings between nursing and breastmilk from a bottle. She turned 14 months old yesterday and is happy and amazingly healthy. Aside from some small scarring from the IVs and an emergency procedure, no one would guess that she’d had such a rocky start. And we put the pump away for good just last week. She’s nursing often and well all on her own. :)

    • Adrienne

      Kiza,
      I too loved the nurses cheering me on each time I’d bring in pumped milk for my baby to be given through his feeding tube. Congratulations on your success story, it’s so great to hear proof that our little ones can learn on their own timetables!

  3. Heather-Lynn

    My last child was a preemie. The support in the hospital was terrible. If it had not been that it was my third son and I KNEW there was no alternative for me but to Nurse I’m sure they would have done a good job swaying me not to!! I wrote them a letter and they called to chat and said they were going to make changes and I hope they did. No one should go through the fight I had to go through just to excersie their right to Nurse their baby.
    And just as a note, there was no medical reason to not allow me to nurse him. Just that is was in the way for me to be there doing so.

  4. Sylvia@MaMammalia

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My son was born at 32 weeks and was in the NICU almost a month. Our BF journey was long and arduous (it took about 4 months before we could get rid of all the gear). I am proud to say that we are still BF’ing at 21 months! So yes, ladies, it IS possible to breastfeed a preemie!

    Your points about determination and support rang true for me. Those are definitely what made it possible for us…and hopefully for many other moms of preemies.

  5. Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip

    Oh, my goodness. This article moved me to tears. Sometimes the emotional side of nursing preemies stays with you! My twin boys were born at 34 weeks. I had a NICU staff that was ambivalent about my babies getting breastmilk. But my own mother was the support system I needed to start and keep pumping. We switched from breast milk in a bottle to exclusive nursing when they were seven weeks old. It can be done, and kudos to all the mamas out there who do it!

    • Adrienne

      Thank goodness for supportive mothers. My own mother is my greatest support, other than my husband, and I greatly appreciate her. So glad you had wonderful support from your mom as well!

  6. Jenny  

    Congratulations Adrienne! So glad to hear such success stories.

  7. Kim

    I’m writing this to encourage other moms. I know how much time I searched for info on breastfeeding preemies. My last child was born at 24 weeks 2 days. He was in the NICU for 3 months. We were blessed to be in a hospital with amazing support for breastfeeding preemies. The lactation consultant was there soon after my c-section helping hand express milk, and it was drops, for our baby. He was sustained with TPN for several weeks but received increasing amounts of breastmilk via ng tube. At about 34 weeks we put him to breast for nuzzling (getting the idea that this is where food comes from), and at 35 weeks started to enourage him to breastfeed but he was a slow learner. He did better with the bottle because he didnt’ have to work so hard. The speech therapist came to help figure out how to position him so that he could drink from the bottle (each baby is a bit different in their features and coordination). We continued to work on breastfeeding every time followed by the bottle and finishing the feeding with the ng tube when he wore out. If I remember right the goal was to have the breast-bottle time done in 20-30 minutes so that he wouldn’t burn up all the calories in trying to eat. He needed to grow and develope also. At 39 weeks he started nursing better and taking the bottle better and the ng tube was removed. Oh happy day! To see my baby’s face without anything in the way! When we came home from the NICU I continued to feed him fortified bottles (half high-calorie preemie formulat with half breastmilk) and also worked on nursing each time. After a couple of weeks at home I nursed exclusively at night and gave him fortified bottles during the day. After two months at home he was getting nearly all of his noursishment with breast feeding and at 3-4 months at home was only breastfeeding. I nursed him until he was 2 1/2 years, after 18 months it was just late in the evening, early morning, and naptime. He is now 4 years old and a healthy little boy.
    The back story is that I had an abrupting placenta at 24 weeks and was on complete bedrest for two weeks, I received two shots of the steroids that cause the lungs to develop, he went home on no oxygen. No cerebal palsy. He learned to speak on target but was a bit funny about his word development compared to my other children. He is very aggressive and has been from a very early age compared to my other children. I think that it is very important for parents to be with their preemies as much as they can, read up on attachment disorders. I was blessed to be in the NICU nearly every day, 12 hours a day because of amazing support. Some of my support thought that I should just let the staff take care of my baby. And I saw parents who used the hospital in that way, as a babysitting service or daycare provider. If I had to do it over again, I would still be there every day and I would have “roomed in” with my baby those last weeks to work on attachment and breastfeeding. I didn’t read up on attachment disorders until our baby was much older and I was curious as to why this child was so aggressive. Brain development is still going on in a tremendous way and there is still so much to discover. Even though the preemie can’t express his needs, he still has them and he needs his mom all the time. Kangaroo Care is also very important. And amazing. The breasts will change their temperature to bring up the baby’s or to cool down. KC causes more milk. Pump after doing kanagaroo care with your baby.
    And, finally, I was really glad to be done with that pump!!! Babies are so much better at it. Another plus I had was a toddler who still nursed on occasion. When I was with my family I would let her nurse and she would give my milk supply a boost.

  8. Amy McCarty

    WOW….. *tears* I can so relate to this so I felt the need to post my story so here it is..

    Zuri’s Birth Story

    I think a brief medical history is needed before starting my story. When I was about 14 years old I was diagnosed with a uterine horn and it was removed because of the extreme amount of pain it caused me when I had my monthly period. This basically meant that I had 2 uterus’. (one almost fully developed and another small closed off one that filled with blood and contracted and caused pain) After this was removed I was told I should be able to have children normal like anyone else although I had only 1 tube and 2 ovaries. Sure enough when my partner and I decided to try for a baby it took only a few short months and after my first period since trying we got pregnant.

    I saw an OB for the whole pregnancy because no one really seemed sure how my pregnancy would play out. I had about 7 ultrasounds through my pregnancy to “watch” if everything was going well which it was. I had an ultrasound right before going into labour and no one seemed to notice anything…

    The night of December 27 2009 my partner Chris Bailey and I were having a family supper for Christmas at my grandmothers. I was 32 weeks pregnant with Zuri. I ate so much turkey and potatoes I felt like I might burst. Little did I know that hours later this would come true.

    Just after midnight that same night it turned December 28 2009 and I was playing a game on Facebook. (Treasure Isle) Chris was upstairs sleeping and had to work in the morning. I went into the fridge to eat some left over turkey and chocolate. As I was standing there pigging out I heard a pop and felt a gush. I looked down to see water pouring through my pants. I thought “oh my god I’m peeing my pants!” I grabbed at my crotch and smelt the liquid. Didn’t smell like pee and it wouldn’t stop. Yes, I was in HUGE denial about my water just breaking. I started to panic and ran upstairs turned the light on in the bedroom and yelled at Chris “ CHRIS GET UP I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE!” He sat straight up out of a dead sleep and said “Oh my god really? Are you sure?” I said “I think so, look.” I sat on the toilet for a few minutes till I got some clean pants.

    I called my mom and told her and in minutes my whole family was at my house, including mom, dad and my younger sister. I am sure I was in denial and shock because I went on Facebook and typed in my status what happened. I started to walk around drinking a pop. I was saying “I have tons of time to pack and get ready because I was reading that women go into labour and it takes hours or even days for the baby to arrive!!” Little did I know that this was NOT the case with me having a baby at 32 weeks.

    After my family yelled enough for me to get into the car we discovered there was no gas to make it to the hospital in the city 1 hour away. It was midnight so nothing was open. We had to drive and get my sisters car. Once I got into my sisters car we started to head to the city. (Saskatoon) Chris was driving I was passenger and my mom was in the back seat. My dad and sister followed in there car. About 15-20 minutes since my water broke and just out of town I started to have contractions. My mom was timing them. She kept saying “this isn’t right, this can’t be right..” I said “what’s going on? Why do you seem worried?” She said “Well your contractions seem to be perfectly 5 minutes apart and this happens at the END of labour!” I guess I was STILL in denial because I didn’t seem to realize I was very close to having Zuri. I kept having an extreme urge to pee and poop. I had Chris stop the car and got out in the snow and -20 weather and stared to push really hard trying to pee. (I realize NOW this was me wanted to PUSH Zuri out!) After this my contractions were about 3 consistent minutes apart. My mom called 911. I have to “use the bathroom” and it was driving me crazy so I wanted Chris to pull over again. The lady on the phone said “NO, don’t let her do that whatever you do!!”

    We drove a few more miles and met the ambulance and by the time I got in my contractions were VERY strong and about 2 minutes apart. The paramedic “checked” me and said “I feel a foot!” (I later found out this was her bum pocking out) I said “where? How far out?” She was coming and by now I started to realize this and had to “hold on” and not push.

    We pulled into the hospital about 2 ½ hours after my water broke, I was 10 centimetres dilated and Zuri was WELL on her way and breech. My contractions were pretty much one long one by this point and I SO wanted to just push her out. (Knowing what I know now I probably just would have) I was rushed into emergency and the doctor came in and I heard them talking about if they should do a c-section because she was breach or let me push her out. At this point I was not able to speak for myself and just signed the paper for the c-section having no idea what it even said. I could have been signing over my soul for all I knew. I signed the paper and was instantly giving the epidural for a c-section. As this was happening I was trying with everything I had not to push while I had a nurse yelling at me “DON’T PUSH!”

    Before I knew it I was cut open and could “feel” them pulling Zuri out then I heard her cry and I was so happy. Zuri was born 4 lbs 4 oz and 16 Inches long! This isn’t to small for a baby born at 32 weeks. Chris was right next to me taking pictures of her and telling me she was ok and everything was going great. Thank god for his support. Then the most amazing moment happened and they passed Zuri to Chris and he held her by my face and she was beautiful. Chris was talking to me and she was looking around for him. She recognized his voice and knew this was her daddy. It was simply amazing!

    Then this story starts to get sad… I never got to touch her yet and they took her down to the NICU. I was wheeled into the recovery room where I threw up all the turkey and chocolate I ate earlier that night. I really regretted that. After a while I was moved into a room where I go to sleep. Not once did anyone ask or talk to me about breast feeding my baby or pumping. The next day once I realize I had no milk for Zuri and she was getting formula I got upset and started to ask what to do. I didn’t get much or any help for that matter. I was just told to use this pump and pump my milk. I later found an amazing nurse that explained everything to me and how to do it and how often. She said about every 2-3 hours around the clock.

    This is when the pumping started in. I pumped every 2-3 hours and set my phone alarm to wake up in the night. I will NEVER forget how exciting it was to see the first few drops of milk only a few days later. The first time I started to get milk was about 2:00AM and as it started to come I cried and cried. I pumped for an hour to get about an oz. I made it a point to bring it down to Zuri myself in the middle of the night crying because I was so happy to get it and give it to her and from the pain of the c-section.

    Days later I finally got to hold Zuri for the first time. I touched her a few days before but not hold her. This was very difficult because I honestly think I sound horrible when I say this but I did not feel a bond between us. I felt empty and almost like I had “lost” a baby the whole 49 days in the hospital. There was no skin to skin and hardly any breast feeding. I spent most of my time arguing with the nurses back and forth to keep feeding Zuri breast milk. Almost every time I went back into the room they were feeding formula. The reason would be because she was spitting up because of re-flux and I didn’t know any better so I listened. I know SO much better now but this didn’t help me then.

    While in the hospital Chris and I stayed with Zuri and nearly went poor in the process. We could hardly afford rent, food or bills. At times we just didn’t pay anything because we couldn’t. We need to focus all our attention on and being with Zuri and forget the rest. We had enough stress with being in the hospital. We each had a few breakdowns but thankfully at separate times so we could be there for each other. We also had amazing support from family. My amazing mother was in the city almost daily to be with me. For anyone that has had a baby in the NICU you must know the pain I speak of. PLUS, we were treated like non-humans most often while there. They kicked us out of our room and put us on the dirty floor at one point. One horrific event I will never forget because it was one of the scariest times in my life. I was sitting in the room with Zuri and a large group of doctors and students came in and were looking at Zuri and talking to each other while I was sitting there. They completely ignored me and talked amongst each other. I could hear them saying something about Zuri’s heart. I was panicked and asked what was wrong and they just said “oh she has a heart murmur and will be fine” while walking out. I was freaked out and so worried something was wrong with my baby and NO ONE to explain anything to me. I had to wait a few days to find out anything about it. (It is now gone and she is great!) but at the time I had NO idea what was going on. Talk about being treated like an animal.

    So 49 days of hell later, it was time for Zuri to come home. It was an amazing but scary day. We took Zuri home in her car seat and she looked so tiny at not yet 5 lbs. For the first few months it was very difficult because I still pumped around the clock every 2-3 hours (through the night) because Zuri had trouble getting enough milk from the breast. I was also extremely afraid to stop pumping and lose my milk. I was 100% against the idea of formula and wanted a large supply of milk in case anything went wrong. It never did. One day I just put the pump away and said “lets try just breast feeding for a few days.” Well ever since then the bottles have never been used again and were put away completely and Zuri is and was exclusively breast fed. I am SO proud to say this! Through all the stress, pain and hardships I never stopped pumping breast milk for my beautiful baby and am so glad I made this choice. So glad I never had to give 1 drop of formula since her early NICU days.

    Chris and I went through a lot but we were there for each other through it all and this matters most. Yes, I am sad I never got to have a natural birth but I don’t regret anything because it made me the amazing mommy I am. Would I ever go through this again? Not in 100 years! Now that I KNOW better I will DO better! Next time NO formula! I have so many supports (Friends and Eats On Feets milk sharing) I would make sure of this. Would I get a c-section again? NEVER! I missed out on that beautiful skin to skin contact that every mother NEEDS to bond. Like I said I felt like I lost a baby for so long and it took me a while to bond properly with my beautiful baby. Now we get skin to skin daily! I do feel like Zuri and I missed out on what is sacred and special at birth and will do everything I can next time to MAKE SURE this never happens again. This experience has taught Chris and I a lot for better.

    Zuri is now almost a year old and breast feeding like a sure pro and not stopping anytime soon. She will wean when she is good and ready. She is strong and healthy and weighs 17 lbs and is 27 ½ Inches long! She is the most amazing little girl. She is loved by all our hearts! I hope other mommies can read this story and gain strength. We will do all we can do as parents to fight for our children and make sure they get what is best for them.

  9. Adrienne

    Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story. Way to go on your breastfeeding success! You are an excellent example of what I meant when I said it takes determination! I hate the feeling of not getting the skin-to-skin contact after my baby was born and taken to the NICU and it something I mourn frequently. Again, thank you for sharing and I’m thankful for your example! :)

  10. Megan

    I had twin premies.. 30weeks6days. Thankfully i have two older daughters i had to pump for so i had experience with that. However.. this time was different.. having to pump from the get go. i’d do two premie cycles onthe hospital pump. However..eventually my body seemed to boycott pumping.. so i switched from my tride and true avent to hospital grade pump to manual expressing..suffered blocked ducts..all sorts of things. But.. now my babies are almost a year old and nurse like champs :) i pumped often (every two hours in the begninning) its been an experience.. but i think if i can get through THAT.. with all the issues i had, anyone can do it :) :)

  11. ellen

    Thanks for this article! My preemie baby was born at 32 weeks and 5 days last month. He’s been discharged from the hospital 2 days ago!! He drinks most of his (pumped) milk from the bottle now and as soon as he’s settled in at home i want to expand the “live” breastfeeding. This is still quite hard for him as it takes lots of energy (he only got his ng tube removed less then a week ago). I could really use some more expert advice on switching from pumped-milk-on-a-fixed-schedule to fully breastfeeding. Can you advice me any forums?

    • Kat

      Hi Ellen–I had my oldest daughter at 32w6d (she is going to be 7 this year!!!). Breastfeeding was definitely a learning curve in the beginning, but she eventually got the hang of it. I have since then breastfed two more kiddos and I am now a birth doula who also helps moms with breastfeeding :-) The best advice I got when I had my preemie was from a lactation consultant. She said to do lots of skin to skin to help with milk supply and bonding, plus it gives preemie babies the extra cuddling time they missed out on in the womb! Have you had a chance to breastfeed him at all? It will be important to establish a good latch. He may get tired easily, so try latching him on and letting him nurse till he is either full, or tired, then you can give him a bit of breastmilk in a bottle. Little by little, as he gets stronger, you can reduce the amount of milk he gets in a bottle. There is also something called the Supplemental Nursing System, which allows your baby to latch on to the breast and through a little tube attached to mom’s nipple the baby gets some milk. You can approach this the same way you would the bottle, have him nurse first and then give milk through the tube. In doing so, baby gets to latch on and stimulate the breast but also get topped up with some milk, if needed. You can get these through pharmacies or through the hospital lactation consultant. You may also want to look into your local support group, like the La Leche League. The hospital lactation consultant may also be able to help you. Some resources to check out are the kellymom website, and also Dr. Jack Newman’s website (he has lots of great educational videos). Big hugs Mama!

  12. Laura

    My best advice is to take it slow and watch your baby’s cues. IIRC, he’s about 37 weeks (adjusted) right now? Some 37 weekers are also slow and lazy eaters (I was told by an LC this is quite normal for 37 weeks) so don’t expect him to gobble milk from the breast right now. Make sure he is gaining and maintaining his weight before ditching the bottle fully. For my son, it was right around 40 weeks, adjusted, that he “woke up” and breastfed.

    I found it easiest to feed one feeding from the breast, then do the rest from the bottle. Every day or so, I would increase the breastfeeding sessions until he was fully nursing from the breast. This is not a linear process, as you might have to “back track” and do more bottle feeding one day than you were the next. Again, watch your baby. It is vital to track input and output (how many ounces or how long they nursed and the wet/dirties and when) to make sure they are growing well. It IS a pain but once he takes off, you can ditch the charts!

    Congratulations and good luck!

  13. Dina

    Your story is beautifully told, and yes – as a determined mom of a preemie, I can relate to exactly what you’re saying here. Every single word. I want to just point out if it didn’t hit you… you said you had him at 34 weeks, and that he latched at 6 weeks. That means he latched on or right around his original due date! That is exactly what happened to me, and in fact I read in a breastfeeding guide that this is the case for preemies. Their mouths grow into breastfeeding once they’re up to their “full term” due date. Much love to you and your beautiful son! My boy is a mellow sweetie, too. :)

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