Preemies

Pumping for my Preemie

I had planned on breastfeeding once my daughter was born in August, but she decided that she just couldn't wait until then! So my little girl came 12 weeks early and instead of feeding her, I feed a machine. It's been a rough start and after the first few pumping sessions, I was so mentally exhausted and physically drained that I thought about giving up. But that wouldn't be best for my sweet princess. She needs my milk more than ever. I'm almost on day 5 of exclusive pumping and even though I've made progress, I'm still finding myself discouraged and disappointed with what I produce most times. I know that my milk is still coming in but I can't help but feel like my breasts are already as full as they're gonna get. I feel like I'm running out of milk and despite the fact that I've pumped enough to feed her 2lb 4oz body for a loooooong time, I fear that my breasts are just gonna stop producing milk. I feel so helpless. Anybody ever felt like this? Will it get better? Easier?

Re: Pumping for my Preemie

  • I've been pumping for 4 months now for my 24 weeker who is now 40 weeks and is just beginning to take a bottle . It's a long road but its all we can do! So important! Keep up the great work!! My 1 pound 4 oz micro preemie is now 6 pounds 13 oz because of all my pumping! It pays off!
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  • You are doing an amazing job. It is hard and frustrating to pump when you want to nurse. I was there. Have you pumped at her bedside? Maybe that will help you feel more connected when you pump? I too had to pump at first but we are about two weeks shy of a year and are doing great with bf'ing. It took time and patience and a nipple shield and patience and pumping and patience but we got here. Whenever I saw my son gain an ounce I was so proud and that kept pushing me. Good luck and keep doing it if you can!
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    Hoping for a full 40 weeks!! 
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  • DS was a late preemie, but he just didn't have the energy to nurse and my supply was really low so I mainly pumped for over a year.  I will be honest, I hated it for the first 4 months because I had to pump every 3 hrs around the clock and the most I ever got in a day was 24oz.  It was one of the hardest things I've done, but it does get easier.  At 6 weeks I produced 8oz a day, with the help of reglan and eventually domperidone I tripled that amount.   You are doing a great job....it is hard, but try not to doubt yourself!

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  • Give your body time to catch up. Because you she was born early, your body wasn't fully prepared to nurse when she was born. I was getting around 3 oz each pumping time for the first month or so and it's gradually increased to 6 oz and I'm 10 weeks out from delivery. I also pump for 25 minutes each session because I have twins.

    With my first dd, I found it helpful to have a picture of her to look at while I pumped assuming she wasn't with me as it helped me have more let downs.

    GL, this is a hard road, but it's also full of positive moments.
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  • Hang in there. Really. I know how hard this is. I had an AWFUL time getting my supply started -- and I had TWO to feed! I pumped constantly. I never went longer than 3 hours overnight, and pumped every 2 hours during the day. 10-12 sessions a day, 2 of them were power pumping sessions. I calculated that I spent around 8+ hours a day attached to that pump the entire 81 days the girls were in the NICU. I pumped bed-side a ton -- which made me feel like I was still there with them when I was constantly attached to the machine.

    That said, it worked. I barely pumped 450mL/day by the end of week two -- and by the time the girls were discharged, I was regularly pumping 1600mL a day, give or take. The amount I pumped increased over that time VERY, very slowly. And, I totally dropped off the length and frequency of sessions -- now pumping 7 times a day, no power pumping, and still getting that same output level. No more increases in output -- but no drops, either.

    Take care of yourself first, but don't give up. It's early. It's hard. It's hard without having your baby born this early -- and you have that additional level of stress to handle. Hang in there, mama!

    TTC Since 11/10 due to Unexplained IF
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  • What everyone else said! It took me over a month to get up to pumping about 26 oz a day. I tracked my output religiously to help me figure out what helped me produce more. I upped my food and water intake. I also took hot showers before I pumped as often as I could. In the beginning I also tried to power pump at least once a day (I pumped 20 minutes, then 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on). I pumped every three hours during the day for 20-30 minutes and did two four-hour stretches at night.

    Don't give up hope! Anna was born at 26 weeks. We worked from the beginning on getting her ready. We started by giving her a paci while she was tube fed so she would associate sucking with a full belly. Next, we graduated to holding her and giving her a paci while she was tube fed so she would associate being held and sucking with a full belly. Then, we were allowed to try non-nutritive breastfeeding. She was finally able to start trying to breast and bottle feed at about 34 weeks. I had to go back to work so we knew she would need to learn to do both before bringing her home. However, it took her over a month to master the suck-swallow-breathe. I was really upset when it seemed like she wouldn't be able to breastfeed at all due to difficulty swallowing, but we just kept at it with the LCs at the NICU and eventually she caught on. Until she was a couple of weeks adjusted, I always had to pump after she nursed since she didn't drain me, but eventually I was able to stop doing that and now I only pump for missed feeds. She breastfeeds and bottle feeds like a champ! 

    Good luck! 

  • Thank you all for the encouraging and kind words. When I found out I was pregnant back in November, I knew right away that breastfeeding was the only option for my baby and I so I am determined to stick to it, even considering the circumstances. I think a lot of my doubt is just in my head, because according to the nurses in the NICU, I'm doing fantastically. I'm a bit hard on myself when I feel like I could be doing better but that's just my personality. Apparently, many of the moms with preemies in the NICU are still getting drops after a week, and I haven't even hit my one week mark. Is it normal to be getting 1-2 oz total each time? This morning I actually got a total of 3 oz and had to wake up my SO to show him LOL
  • I second that: "keep it up"! You are doing an amazing thing for your baby! It's definitely exhausting but it will get easier. I pumped for the 11 weeks when my 28 weeker was in the hospital. After many attempts and with the help of the hospital lactation consultant he started to nurse well in week 37. He's now 3 months corrected, weighs 13.5 pounds and is still 100 breastfed. Does your NICU let you pump next to his bed or in a nice pumping room? I know this helped me. Make small goals, each day you pump helps your little one. Also, don't be discouraged about your milk supply, it will get better and every drop you can give is important. Good luck!
  • MrsRKJMrsRKJ
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    Yes, definitely keep up that pumping!  The more you pump, the more your body will produce.  The only way your body will stop producing the milk is if you stop pumping.  That BM is liquid gold, and will be the best medicine for your LO!  Congrats on your new arrival!
    Welcomed our baby boy Henry on March 15, 2013 (7 weeks early!)

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  • It does get better.  EPing is hard work, and I had many days where I felt frustrated and wanted to throw in the towel.  Just keep plugging away at it, and once your LO is bigger you can start trying to BF if you still want to.  Talk to your NICU LC for some additional help and tips, especially once you do get to a point where you can start nursing.  Keep drinking tons of water, pump regularly, massage your breasts while pumping to help empty them more efficiently.  You can always try supplements like mother's tea, oatmeal, fenugreek, etc. to help boost supply.

    You're doing an awesome job so far! 

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  • Yes, I can certainly relate. What helped me in the beginning was lining all my bottles up and taking a picture of them - that way I could visibly SEE that more was coming in over the days. I went on wild pumping sprees, too, and wound up EP'ing for four months total. DS was nipple confused/hot mess after all his feeding issues but he wanted to BF (just didn't know how) and I had the milk so we eventually were able to transition and are still BF'ing :)

    Pumping is HARD. Hang in there <3 

  • Pumping is tough, even when your baby is successfully nursing and you're just pumping at work.  Pumping for a baby in the NICU is even harder for all the reasons you've mentioned.  I thought about throwing in the towel so many times, but I stuck with it due largely to the support on this board.  Try not to get too discouraged!  Pumping next to baby or pumping next to an outfit he'd worn recently or his picture helped me stay with it.  Best of luck!
    Preemie Resources: http://preemiemomblog.blogspot.com/

    DD1: BFP July 2010...HG in first tri, MC delivered vaginally at 18 weeks October 2010

    DS: BFP December 2011...SCH at 5 weeks, SBR at 7 weeks, Placental Abruption at 13 weeks, Hospitalized at 25 weeks, pPROM at 28 weeks, PTL via CS at 31 weeks 

    DD2: BFP January 2013...P17 shots, delivered via VBAC at 39 weeks
  • I had much better luck today with milk production. I know that it's good to pump every few hours but I tried to give a little extra time between sessions and the outcome was amazing! After waiting about 5 hours instead of the usual 2-3, I sat down to pump, looked at her picture for a couple of minutes, next thing I know my SO is giving me the oddest look. He says "Um, babe, I think you need new bottles on there" so I look down and sure enough, I've just about filled up each 2.5 oz bottles. I felt like such a proud mama. It was satisfying and rewarding. I pumped once more about 2 1/2 hours after that big session and still filled over half of each bottle. My SO couldn't understand why I was crying. Tears of joy!
  • image ashmariedunn:
    I had much better luck today with milk production. I know that it's good to pump every few hours but I tried to give a little extra time between sessions and the outcome was amazing! After waiting about 5 hours instead of the usual 2-3, I sat down to pump, looked at her picture for a couple of minutes, next thing I know my SO is giving me the oddest look. He says "Um, babe, I think you need new bottles on there" so I look down and sure enough, I've just about filled up each 2.5 oz bottles. I felt like such a proud mama. It was satisfying and rewarding. I pumped once more about 2 1/2 hours after that big session and still filled over half of each bottle. My SO couldn't understand why I was crying. Tears of joy!
    Way to go!!!!
    Preemie Resources: http://preemiemomblog.blogspot.com/

    DD1: BFP July 2010...HG in first tri, MC delivered vaginally at 18 weeks October 2010

    DS: BFP December 2011...SCH at 5 weeks, SBR at 7 weeks, Placental Abruption at 13 weeks, Hospitalized at 25 weeks, pPROM at 28 weeks, PTL via CS at 31 weeks 

    DD2: BFP January 2013...P17 shots, delivered via VBAC at 39 weeks
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