11 answers

Question for Moms of Premies Who Were Finally Able to Nurse

I am asking this question for my daughter. She delivered her baby just over 8 weeks early. From the start, she was interested in nursing so began the pumping immediately. She has been very successful at that so he is totally on breastmilk, not formula!

Her baby started taking the bottle before released but was still too tiny to begin nursing. He is now just over 3 months old and she was finally able to get him started this week. But she says it is very painful. As much joy as she is getting out of this achievement, the pain is overwhelming.

She asked me for ideas as I nursed my babies until they stopped at around 18 months but that was so long ago, and I had no problems like this.

Can anyone with experience of successfully getting a premie from the bottle to the breast give any advice for her? Does she need to start slowly, maybe once a day, then twice a day, on up to every feeding over the course of a few weeks? Once she started, she nursed at every feeding and I'm wondering if that was too quick for her body? Is the La Leche League still around for helpful advice?

Thank you in advance to anyone who can give me suggestions for her. I think she has already succeeded as far as providing him breastmilk - I am very proud of my daughter. But if she can get the full experience, save on bottle washing and stop the pumping, I think she would be thrilled.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone. She has located at support group and will go to that meeting next week.
I am very proud of her.

Featured Answers

I agree that a lactation consultant can be very helpful. There should be some at the hospital where she delivered who she can contact. Has she tried nipple shields? My first was full term, but we had some problems at first and those really helped. It's still something she'll have to wash, but much less than all the pump accessories. ;) Also, Medela makes a product called Tender Care Hydrogel that may help. Good job and good luck to her!

More Answers

Sounds like a little of "nipple confusion" and (im)proper latching. Babies given a bottle in the hospital (ooh, I hate that! IMHO) can confuse how to drink from a bottle and how it is different from how to drink when nursing at the breast.

Please feel free to visit http://www.llli.org//Web/Texas.html and find a La Leche League group near your daughter. My aunt was in LLL a long time ago and it is amazing but true: that organization is still up and certifying leaders / consultants. (It's great.)

Please let your daughter know it is okay to _liberally_ apply lanohsil (not sure I spelled that right), _after_ the baby has nursed. Getting help ASAP with the correct latch hold and position will reduce (and remove) that pain really quickly.

One thing to note, with my premie, my lactation consultant showed me how to help him retrain his latch ("posture" or position, so to speak). It may very well be the same with your grandchild.

And, btw, there is no such thing as "too tiny to nurse" IMHO. Please encourage your daughter to nurse on demand as often, and as much, as she can stand it.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

congrats to her for pumping and trying. I'm a big advocate of breastfeeding for all the reasons you listed.
My 14 yo was in the NICU for 72 days but I still remember it!! They told me it was because she was a preemie and too tired to nurse so I only got about 2 months nursing time with her. She also had a hard time getting the hang of it due to bottles in the NICU!! So it will be the most frustrating thing for your daughter but the most rewarding. Sounds like she is doing everything right but might want to find a local person who can come and observe if she is comfortable with that. And try other positions-lying down is the easiest. Your daughter may not be aware of it but she might start stressing and that affects the baby cause they feel it.
If it does not work, she should still be proud of the fact that she tried and as you said, she got him some breastmilk. As soon as I got some to my DD and she was ready for it in the NICU, she came home w/in 2 wks. My husband calls breastmilk liquid gold!!
Congrats on the grandbaby and if she has anymore ?'s on preemies, definitely ask. BTW, my daughter is great now-just crawled/walked later than most!!

1 mom found this helpful

It's going to hurt for a week or 2 until her nipples are used to the sucking. Pumping is not the same as the baby actually latching on and nursing so its going to hurt her. Use lanolin on them all the time!!! It is wonderful and will help them not crack or bleed and feel better. She can put them on after every nursing and rub them into the nipples and she wont have to wash it off before the next feeding because its natural and wont hurt the baby. Also she needs to nurse every feeding so her body will adjust and also the baby will get used to nursing from her and not a bottle. Good for her for starting to nurse after 3 months!!!

I agree that a lactation consultant can be very helpful. There should be some at the hospital where she delivered who she can contact. Has she tried nipple shields? My first was full term, but we had some problems at first and those really helped. It's still something she'll have to wash, but much less than all the pump accessories. ;) Also, Medela makes a product called Tender Care Hydrogel that may help. Good job and good luck to her!

I no nothing about premies but I do know when I started nursing, the pain was severe. Bleeding, cracking, etc. Whenever the baby would latch, it was so painful it would bring me to tears (the pain would subside some after a couple of minutes). I had heard from others that if I would just stick it out, the pain would eventually go away. They were right. I endured 5-6 weeks of this. The pain just stopped very suddenly. There was no gradual improvement. Not everyone experiences pain like this; I think we all have different pain thresholds and it depends on the type of skin we have too. One of my babies had a latching problem and that experience was more painful than the other. However, even with my good latcher, I had plenty of pain and problems. Have her give it 6 weeks but I would highly recommend seeing a lactation consultant right now (to make sure the latch is good). When my babies would latch, their bottom lip would be turned under. I would have to take my thumb and pull down on their chin at every single nursing, to open up their mouths wide and get that bottom lip turned out instead of under. His face should also be push up right into her breast (to the point where it seems as if he might not be able to breath). Just make sure a portion of one nostril is exposed and he'll be fine. It gets easier!!! I commend her for this commitment!! She's doing the best thing for her little guy! Nursing is no cake walk but once you get through the tough part, it's SO much easier than bottles. By the way, you can contact La Leche league but I would start by calling the hospital she delivered at or the NICU he was in. Ask them if she can get a free consultant through her insurance. Many hospitals do this (but not all).

I would be willing to bet that her little one isn't latched properly. Yes, La Leche League IS still around, have her look them up, they are so helpful. If she has been pumping without pain for the last 3 months, baby must not be sucking quite right.

She should contact a lactation consultant who can watch her feed and see if it is a latching problem. Nursing at first can be a bit painful, as the breasts haven't been used like that before. The first few days are the worst, but it does get better. If she is in so much pain that she wants to keep pumping, she needs to see someone about it and get the support she needs. You may also want to call the hospital and see if there is a breastfeeding support group. She can also try nursing on one side each time to give the other breast a bit of a break.

First, congratulations on the birth of your grandchild!

My second son was born 9 weeks early and, like your daughter, I found nursing him excrutiating in the beginning. Their little mouths are so small and they don't really know how to latch on correctly. I would sit there and cry while he nursed. I think my biggest issue was that it was so hard to get him latched on, that I didn't want to unlatch him and try again if he latched on incorrectly. But - I finally started doing this. It was extremely frustrating to have to unlatch him over and over, but eventually he would get on correctly and it was so much less painful. So, make sure he latches correctly and take him off the breast if he doesn't. If that doesn't help, then have her call the nicu and they will put her in touch with a lactation consultant. Best of luck to her - breastmilk is so important, especially for these little preemies! :)

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