breastfeeding 35 week preemie

Hi everyone, my baby was just born Feb 6 by emergency c-section at nearly 35 weeks. I am wondering what have been your experiences with breastfeeding in the NICU. Breastfeeding is extremely important to me and I am so afraid that he won't learn to latch and nurse properly. The nurses are letting me try breastfeeding twice a day for 5 minutes or so, then trying a bottle, then finishing his feeds with the tube. Is this pretty standard? I'm pumping every 2-3 hours and fortunately my milk has come in and as of now I'm making enough for him. Thank you so much for any support and guidance!
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Re: breastfeeding 35 week preemie

  • Hi, welcome and congrats!!

    Sounds exactly like how our feeding started with LO once he was ready. We would just kind of let him play with the boob for a bit at first as he wasn't trying to suck the first several days. Eventually he would try to eat from the boob but would tire out real quick and we would finish with tube or bottle.
    Keep at it! It seems like a long process and it kind of is, but eventually he will work up enough stamina to stay on the boob longer!

    We used a nipple shield for the first few weeks as well and found it really helped him as it was less work for him while he was working on his energy and sucking skills. Also recommend working with your lactation consultant, they really helped us!

  • They can't bf too long when they are small because it takes too much energy.  Learning to bottle feed lets LOs go home, which is a much better place for them if they are healthy.  For most people, I don't think bfing really works until around your due date, or perhaps a week or two before.  See if you can meet with the hospital lactation consultant.  However, in my experience, my baby totally got it once she was old enough and trying before that was frustrating, but probably good practice for her.  I think it's pretty much a myth that babies can't bottle feed and then breastfeed.
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  • My only thought would be to have a pow-wow with the nurses, doctors, and LCs and state your clear desire to BF. Then ask whether more frequent attempts might be possible for your LO. It really depends on what else is going on (resp issues, weight gain, jaundice, etc), but a lot of 35 weekers are hardy enough to attempt BFing more than twice per day for 5 mins.

    The other questions might be whether you can separate the BF attempts and bottle attempts. Maybe you could put him to the breast only 2-4 times while you're there for a little longer than 5 mins- like maybe 10-15, and then tube feed the remainder. They could work on the bottle feeding at night or when you're not there. Honestly for him to go from trying to latch at the breast, then trying to deal with the faster flow of a bottle all within a few minutes might be a little confusing.

    I'm only commenting based on my experiences and these things are so different in different babies, so it's really important to get on the same page with his team and have a strong LC in your court! Good luck. I brought my 29 weeker home mostly breastfeeding with a shield at 35 weeks adjusted. Honestly, our story is less common, but it is possible. I had a lot of support!
    BFP#1 9/14/10 (EDD 5/21/11); no fetal pole 6w6d, 7w4d, d&c 10/8
    BFP#2 3/16/11, beta 138; 4/12 Baby/HB DS born 9/10/11 at 29w4d due to partial abruption and PTL
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  • my baby was born by emergency c section at 35 weeks and spent three weeks in nicu. she had a very hard time learning to latch and suck. breastfeeding is very important to me so i pumped every two hours and went to almost every feeding. i had lots of nurse help and lc help but we could not get her to latch. she did end up taking a bottle which was great because that's what she had to do in order to get released. i continued to pump and bottle feed every three hours for six weeks. it was very grueling and discouraging because i had successfully breasted my first daughter for 15 months and this time i didn't think it would happen. my supply dropped drastically because i dreaded pumping and didn't get enough stimulation from her. i bought a can of formula and right before i gave it to her i tried one last time. SHE LATCHED! from then on it was all uphill. her latch needed work but got better and better. she is now 5 months and doing wonderfully. i haven't had any supply problems and i have not had to supplement. my advice to you is don't give up. keeping pumping keep working at it and if you are determined it will happen! give it time. good luck!
  • I first want to say WAY TO GO!!  I'm glad you are willing to fight for breastfeeding since that is what you truly desire.  

    My experience:  I had a 32 weeker via emergency C-section.  I was extremely lucky with a rockstar preemie who latched at 33 weeks.  By 33.5 weeks, we were giving 1/2 volume TFs if she BF for at least 15 min.  She BF well about 1/2 the time.  I made it very clear with the staff that I wanted to breastfeed.  Our NICU had private rooms, so was in her room around the clock except for a few hours every other day.  We put her to breast first for most every feed (every 3 hrs) unless she was clearly to tired/sleepy.  I did not want to introduce a bottle so that she could focus on BFing.  She only BF or received TF for 3.5 weeks, then we introduced a bottle.  When she did get TFs, we held her and attempted to give her a passy.  We wanted her to associate being held and sucking with feeling full.  I didn't realize it, but we definitely did things backwards.  We had to work on getting her to take a bottle before she left the NICU. 

    You definitely have to be your own and your baby's advocate.  I think you could definitely push to put him to breast first for at least half of his feeds, given he is alert enough.  Hang in there!  It's not an easy road, but totally worth it!
    2 year TTC journey with successful IVF in Nov 2012- B/G Twins!
    Baby Boy diagnosed with omphalocele and diaphragmatic hernia
    Born at 32 weeks due to PROM.  Emergency c-section due to prolapsed cord.
    Said Goodbye to our sweet Bennett after 5 short hours.  
    Spent 35 days in the NICU with our little girl.

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  • BLPL101BLPL101 member
    edited February 2014
    Congrats on your baby! I had a 35 weeker. She never learned to latch, but this was partially my fault because I had thrush for 5 weeks so it was EXCRUCIATING to try and get her to BF. I've been exclusively pumping for 13 months. Just don't give up! You don't want to EP. 

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  • bunniekrissybunniekrissy member
    edited February 2014
    Thank you so much for all the responses! He lost a little too much weight as of 2 days ago, but he actually gained from yesterday morning to this morning. The neonatologist wants him getting half of his feeds by tube and let him try nippling the other half (by breast or bottle). Unfortunately, he has specified that it must be only twice per shift, meaning he is going to get the bottle at night for both of those 2 opportunities because I can not be there. It really depends on the nurse whether or not they want to let me BF him first at a given feeding session. He actually has started latching very well in the last couple of days and seemingly nursing successfully, so that is a huge relief. The advice is very helpful.
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