Help please! Trying to BF preemies with little success

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Joined: 04/07/11
Posts: 194
Help please! Trying to BF preemies with little success

Hello!

I gave birth to BG twins 10/8 after bout of Pre-E. They were born at 33 weeks and spent 17 and 19 days in the NICU respectively.

I have been very determined to BF and so since DAY 1 have been pumping round the clock every 3 hours for 20-30 minutes a session. Honestly, I am exhausted with it and *hate* my pump at this point, but am continuing in the hopes that my LO's will catch on soon and BF.

I am pumping enough to supply them without supplementing, but not sure how much longer that will last if they don't start nursing successfully. I am able to pump 6-8 ounces a session.

In the NICU I tried BFing twice a day the last week they were there. Since being home, trying to put them each to breast, pump, bottle feed, clean the bottles and pump supplies, plus the diaper changes, clothing changes, etc, I am exhausted.

I recently looked at Dr. Newman's website that I hadn't heard of before, and it put me in tears. About everything the NICU nurses told me about preemies needing bottles, supplements, "wait" to nurse, etc seems contrary to his advice.

So, am I doomed? My LO's are 4 weeks old. Is it "too late" to get them to become exclusive BFers? My plan is to try some sort of BFing boot camp this week if anyone has some great advice I would LOVE IT.

My little boy will latch on ok, but promptly fall asleep. It is like my breast is a nice warm pacifier to him. If he is really hungry, after latching for a minute or so, he will then pull back--seemingly frustrated (due to slowness? having to "work" for milk?) and yells. I try putting him to breast a few times and then out of frustration I get him a bottle of BM and he happily drinks it. He isn't a very vigorous sucker anyway.We had to get him a faster flow nipple for bottle as he was only drinking half the volume his sister does.

My little girl isn't much into latching on. She opens her mouth about as wide as necessary for a bottle. She rarely gets upset, so if I keep trying she will eventually just go to sleep without even latching.

Sigh.

I've had two bouts of clogged milk ducts (self-diagnosed) that had me in tears of pain ready to throw away my pump. I know I am exhausted from getting no more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep at a time (usually no more than 60-90 minutes) but I am feeling very frustrated and incompetent.

I love my babies dearly, and so want to BF them. I am hoping to only return to work on a very limited PT basis, so that I can mostly be a SAHM and BF my babies. My *dream* is to successfully tandem nurse my twins.

Thanks for reading my long story....any assistance greatly appreciated!!

PS: Do you ladies use vitamins? I read conflicting information regarding its necessity with BM.

mandi04's picture
Joined: 08/10/03
Posts: 2272

First, I love your twins names Wink I have a Sofia and suggested Levi to dh for our boys.
As for the vitamin thing. I was torn on it, but the newest studies show that people are getting a lot less vitamin D than they need so I do supplement with vitamin D drops, not the multivitamin ones though (polyvisol/trivisol). We live in Wisconsin so I'm fairly sure none of us get a decent amount of sun for the majority of the year.
I think the best advice would be to set aside a few days this week to do the breastfeeding 'boot camp'. I wouldn't let your DS have the fast flow nipples as he'll get even more frustrated at the breast if he's used to the fast flow of the bottle nipples.
I did exclusively pump for my oldest, it's definitely hard I can't imagine the work that it would entail with twins! I have seen many stories of women getting preemies (and twins!) to breastfeed after not at first. Good luck this week!
Have you tried contacting a LC or a LLL group? You should do that if you haven't yet Smile

quiltingmarie's picture
Joined: 10/09/06
Posts: 117

Lactation consultant! ASAP!!

Starflyr's picture
Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 428

yes, I ditto the lactation consultant idea.

Sounds like your little guy has a weak suck (especially if you had to go to a faster flow nipple), so breastfeeding may be pretty difficult for him until he gets a little bit bigger. Do you have to use chin support with him when he feeds from a bottle?

Sounds like your girl is a bit stubborn.

BUT, Im not there seeing what they're doing AND Im not a lactation consultant. Definitely get in with an IBCLC, preferably one who specializes in getting bottlefed preemies to the breast.

And no, it's not too late.

:bigarmhug:

knhoward's picture
Joined: 04/22/08
Posts: 999

I don't have much advice. But I want to say I'm amazed by all you have done so far. You have worked very hard. I think that you can nurse the babies, but like the other ladies suggested it might be a good idea to see a lactation consultant. Also, there's another women on these boards (rachelrazzle) who successfully breastfed her twins. Maybe she would have some advice?

Joined: 01/25/02
Posts: 2023

Kristin, thanks for thinking of me. Smile

I am still bf my twin boys, but they had less than 5hrs nicu time, so not quite the same. So to that end, I would say lactation consultant as well. I agree with the others, get him on a slower flow nipple, and maybe as he gets used to that, he'll work harder at the breast? IDK. My first was a lazy baby and awful breastfeeder, and it didn't help that I had never breastfed before and did not know what I was doing. All the suggestions from the nurse did nothing, she would fall asleep at the breast every single time. We would try to make her a little uncomfy, undressing her, running my finger up her spine, and it would all just piss her off royally, and then she wouldn't eat at all. But I stuck with it, and supplemented with formula after every other feeding, and she went from a tiny baby (6lbs 3 oz full term, and then down to 5lbs 8oz at her smallest) to 12lbs at her 2mo checkup. At which point we dropped the formula.

Anyhoo... I would just keep trying, and the tandem nursing is so much easier, but it does take some time to be able to do it. You are pure awesome, truly for all the pumping and what not.. so much work! I tried pumping with my twins, and I could never find the time, so you are truly amazing!

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

No advice about BF twins but DD2 was born at 33w5d and in the NICU for 23 days.

At the time she came home, I had attemped nursing about 20 times but probably only had one feed. The first 2 weeks home, she probably only nursed once a day. I found it took time to get her accustomed to the effort to BF and she had to alternate BF and bottles. She also wouldn't accept the breast at night. I also spent the days DD1 was at preschool (2x a week) doing nothing but focusing on nursing on demand. It took almost a month at home to be able to BF at any feeding. I still pump and bottle feed once a day so I can give the vitamins they prescribed in the NICU. With DD1 I gave vitamin D but with DD2 I give the iron and polyvisol they said to.

Do you use a nipple shield? That helped with us. It also helped intially to have either a syringe into the corner of her mouth or fill the shield with breast milk so she didn't have to work so hard to get milk.

I would try to talk to a LC and get their advice. Make sure they are used to dealing with preemies because apparently there are different issues to consider compared to full term babies.

It is not too late to start BF since you have a good supply Smile

Joined: 04/07/11
Posts: 194

Thank you ladies for the encouragement and advice. I tried the shields in the hospital, but Dr. Newman's book seemed to discourage the use of them. However, they may indeed be necessary, especially for my little Sofia who doesn't like to latch.

It is encouraging to know that it isn't "too late". I will keep on trying!!

I have an appt with LC tomorrow, Wednesday, so we shall see what she recommends.

Again, THANK YOU!!!:) (As I sit here typing while attached to my *evil* pump after feeding two babies consecutively with bottles of BM in the wee early hours of the day).

Joined: 11/03/05
Posts: 748

My only sugesting would be to pump on one side while you BF on the other. It takes some juggling, but it is possible. When you start feeling the letdown, put your LO on. That way they have the milk comming right away. When they get use to latching and getting milk, start making them work for it.

My DS was full term, but because of supply issues he was bottle feed b/m and formula for the first few weeks. At arround 6 weeks, I did a nurse in and got him exclusively b/f.

As for a nurse in, get comfy: snaks, lots of water, and your favorit movies or tv shows.

Joined: 08/24/05
Posts: 316

I have never dealt with having preemies or breastfeeding twins HOWEVER, I did get a message from my cousin's wife a few years back. Her preemie was a month old and failing to thrive. Her question, "is it too late to breastfeed?". He went straight to formula because she had never intended to breastfeed and the hospital staff never felt the need to tell her how important it is for preemies to be breastfed (since formula is made for full term babies) so she never even tried to latch him on. Her milk was long gone but I still told her that it wasn't too late to try- given that adoptive moms can induce lactation, I felt it was at least worth a try. I got her an SNS so that he could always be latched while eating and therefore stimulate the breast to produce milk. I went to visit her for 2 weeks and got her some fenugreek and blessed thistle (just incase). When I left, she had her LO nursing at the breast every day even though he went a month without ever latching. A month later, she sent me another message and a picture of just how incredibly chubby he had gotten! He went from failing to thrive to having the chubbiest and cutest little thighs ever in a months time.

I know it's not the same experience you're dealing with BUT Cody had never latched at all and with persistence, his mama got him nursing. The moral of my story is that it's not too late. This isn't to say that you will definitely be able to get them to latch but hopefully it will help keep you from feeling defeated.

I agree that an IBCLC is the best thing you can do because she can take a look at the latches and help you work on that.