Breastfeeding a NICU baby?

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Joined: 06/24/12
Posts: 252
Breastfeeding a NICU baby?

My daughter Tessa was born at 34w6d and is currently in the NICU. Tomorrow I will be five days post partum and we are attempting our very first actual breastfeeding session. At the moment, I am getting about an ounce a breast at each pumping session. My daughter loves the pacifier and seems to like the elongated nipple. She has played around my nipple and had a few quick on/off latches. My husband had a wonderful idea to pump for five minutes, and get my nipple swollen and thicker/longer before than trying to get my daughter to latch. Does that seem like a good idea? Any other helpful hints to elongate my nipple? I want the nipple shield to be the last option. Do any other mommas have any tips when it comes to breastfeeding a NICU baby, and building up a supply while your child is hospitalized? Thanks so much in advance, ladies!

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

I do not have any experience in this, but wanted to give you a :bigarmhug: We are behind you all the way. You go, momma.

And welcome to the world, Tessa!

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483


Worth a try. She might have some nipple confusion from being so young and already used to a paci. I'd ask for a laceration consultant to help you and watch you BF. If there are any issues you want to be on top of them as much as you can so that each session that you do have is working towards a BFing relationship. Dealing with a premie is different than a full term infant, so you do want to demand that professional help!

Believe it or not I have a mama friend who had triplets 4 months ago. Lots and lots of pumping. From day one she has pumped as much as possible around the clock. She wasn't sleeping due to having 3 in the NICU for so long that she figured she might as well pump. She was able to provide all three babies a full breast milk diet for just over 3 months before she had to start supplementing! I keep telling her she's a miracle worker for that. Blum 3 She recommended in the past to others (she's had twins before this who were NICU for a bit - no joke) to get a hospital grade pump (she was able to get insurance to cover hers completely with enough phone calls and eventual doctor prescription), see LCs, and be determined, and forgive yourself when needed.


tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 2977

I'd say the pumping first would be a good idea. Great job momma! Hang in there!

As far as building up a supply, pump often. Pumping more often but for a less time is better than pumping for a long time less often.

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

you need to nurse or pump 8-12 times a day to build supply. if your nursing session is 10 minutes or less you need to pump. Keep a notebook indicating how long you nurse or if you pump how much you pumped. that will help the LC see if you have problems with supply.

when you are actually nursing do what you can to make it easier for the baby. pre pumping is good because it makes the nipple ready. using a syringe to put pumped milk into the baby's mouth while they are nursing also helps.

if it isn't working talk to the nurses. they can put you in touch with someone used to dealing with preemies and breastfeeding.

Good luck!

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

I resisted the nipple shield but I ended up using it and I used it for about 4 months.

kjames106's picture
Joined: 09/16/06
Posts: 678

Mine were born at 33w5d. I nursed them in the NICU a little bit. They had a hard time having the energy and muscle to do it. Keep trying. Pumping first is a very great idea. Once she is home, keep practice bfeeding it will happen. We are successfully tandem nursing now for 2 weeks. I just kept practicing nursing with each one and then supplementing with bottle, finally a light bulb came on and now they're booby monsters. Good luck!

NYMommy04's picture
Joined: 09/19/03
Posts: 281

How r u doing?? My lo is 7 weeks old and we just started on Sunday. Using the shield and having great success... My man was born 28 weeks.