Anyone used breast milk for a tube fed baby?

(13 Posts)
Nikki2ol6 Mon 24-Oct-16 07:39:35

Hello! I am due my baby in 10 weeks but he is going to be tube fed as his heart did not develop normally and they have said he won't be able to feed and they will tube feed him before his first operation. They asked me if I want to breastfeed and I do! They have said I can express milk and they will store it for him and put it into his tube......

Can anyone tell me how this works? Like how much and how often do I express? Where do they store it? Is this better for my baby than the formula?

MumOfTwoMasterOfNone Mon 24-Oct-16 07:44:39

I'm not sure about the tube feeding sorry, but I had to express when my newborn baby had meningitis. The hospital provided a pump and all of the equipment. It may take a while to get your 'milk' in so I would say express as often as you can. There was a specific milk fridge for breast milk to be stored with labels etc. So you know it is yours and when you produced it.
I hope you and your baby are ok flowers

MumOfTwoMasterOfNone Mon 24-Oct-16 07:45:52

Oh...and yes it's better than formula. Especially the colostrum which you get before your milk comes in. A baby only needs a very tiny amount of this, but it is literally liquid gold and provides so much goodness for your baby.

fitzbilly Mon 24-Oct-16 07:46:07

Yes I tube fed both my Ds with breast milk

Arrr the hospital get will show you how to get your milk in if it hasn't come in yet (mind hasn't as my children were premature) then they have electric breast pumps you use to pump the milk into little containers that you label and store in fridges in the hospital.

I pumped every three hours in the hospital, and used a hand held option at home for night time (you have to pump your milk out over night too)

Hope that helps

It's definitely better for your baby if you can do this

Sidge Mon 24-Oct-16 07:46:58

I did! I did it for 9 months as my second child had a genetic disorder and couldn't breastfeed but I wanted her to have breastmilk. Even if they just get the colostrum it's a huge benefit but if you can't sustain it don't get too stressed as having a poorly baby needing surgery is enough to deal with.

My hospital lent me a pump, and I expressed every 3 hours or so into sterile bottles which they stored in a special milk fridge in NICU. You can only get a little bit off initially but my volumes increased as my milk came in and I was double pumping (using both breasts at the same time into 2 bottles) within a week or so. You can hand express also but I found that harder.

Most NICUs have an infant feeding specialist advisor so make contact with her as soon as possible to get the ball rolling with expressing. Anything you can give your baby will be a bonus 😊

Good luck and I hope all goes well for you.

fitzbilly Mon 24-Oct-16 07:50:23

At first you might only get a few ml but your baby won't need much at first either and your body will soon start producing more. Mine got topped up with a bit of formula until I had more milk.

As for actually tube feeding, the nurses will show you how to do it and it is really easy once you get the hang of it. My second came home still tube feeding and we continued to feed him that way at home, the nurses came every other day to check and would come over straight away if he pulled his tube out (which he did, a lot!)

WindInThePussyWillows Mon 24-Oct-16 07:51:06

When I had my twins they were both tube fed my breast milk but topped up with formula.
One was in NICU and the other on SCBU and I was elsewhere in the hospital for the first 24 hours in care, too.
For the first day they were tube fed formula and given my colostrum which was expressed by me and syringed by a nurse. They only need a little bit but i produced loads so what they didn't have they stored for them for when I was in surgery and couldn't produce.
Whilst I was being cared for and not with them, the nurses fed them through their tubes.
Once I was more mobile I had one twin back with me, he was too weak to feed so he was tube fed my expressed milk, and the rest of my milk was sent up to NICU for my other twin.

I expressed every 3 hours for about 15 minutes per breast (from memory)

When they got up the strength to feed themselves they needed topping up with expressed milk or formula because they weren't strong enough to feed for long.
I would then feed them pre expressed milk or formula and then pump after every feed.

I won't lie it was exhausting, but that was with two babies with two different need levels.

Breast milk is stored in the fridge and warmed up in a hot water bath.

I was very lucky that I produced a lot of milk, but even I had to top them up with formula, it happens and if it's best for your baby then it's best for baby!

Tube feeding is tricky at first but I think that was out of panic I was doing it wrong or the tube would hurt baby. It got easier but by day 4 of us being all together (still in hospital) the twins pulled each others tubes out and we gave up with them and continued breast/bottle feeding breast milk topped up with formula.

Best of luck to you x

eurochick Mon 24-Oct-16 07:51:55

Hi. My baby was prem and too weak to feed at first and so was fed through a nasal gastric tube initially. As soon as I could sit up (I had a section and a strange reaction to something and so couldn't sit up for about 12 hours) I started expressing colostrum. The midwives showed me how and brought me syringes. It's helpful to have someone's help with this as it is quite hard to express and syringe at the same time. My husband took the syringes down to the nicu so they could be given to the baby. On about day 3 it looked like my milk was coming in and so I tried the pumps they had in a special room in the nicu. That worked so from then on I pumped around 8 times a day.

If you need to give formula the hospital will have something suitable for premmies but there is a neonatal bowel problem (quite rare) that doesn't seem to happen with breastfed babies. My baby was given a couple of formula shots as my milk was coming in by a dr who didn't believe that my milk was coming in and seemed strangely obsessed with pushing formula. It didn't do any harm though.

If you need support with expressing don't be afraid to ask.

DashboardLightParadise Mon 24-Oct-16 07:57:15

Ds was tube fed for a while as he was prem. Only can add that the hospital will let you hire out a decent pump and if you have problems with expressing you can go the donor milk route. I could only do it for three weeks as my milk then dried up but I did my best and he got the colostrum. If you are home before your baby you freeze the milk.Take a blanket or something home that smells of them as this can help.

Best of luck x

bonzo77 Mon 24-Oct-16 08:00:21

As everyone said above. Hopefully hospital will lend you a powerful double pump.

As a lovely added extra, I felt very helpless and useless when mine was in nicu. Expressing made me feel like I was doing something that really mattered. I liked pumping every 3 hours when I was home at night, knowing that the nurses were feeding him at the same time with the milk I'd delivered earlier. They encouraged me to phone in any time to check in on him. It made a hard situation a little more bearable.

Nikki2ol6 Mon 24-Oct-16 09:45:27

My baby is will be in cardiac intensive care unit and I have been to look around and it's a lot of machines and they showed me a room where you breastfeed or expresss but there was so much going on and I was trying to take it all in I didn't think to ask about it at that moment. But thank you everyone

minipie Mon 24-Oct-16 14:48:07

Hi, I'll probably be repeating but here's how it worked for me:

- First day or so after birth I had to hand express as it's thicker colostrum at that point. Midwife showed me how to hand express, there are also online videos. You squeeze out the colostrum and catch the drops in a teeny syringe (this can be tricky!) which they then attach to the feeding tube

You can hand express some colostrum before birth if you want to get a head start and have some waiting for him so he doesn't need to have any formula. However best not to start before 36/37w as it can bring on labour!

- Once your colostrum turns into milk and there is more of it, you can get going on the electric pumps. You can pump every few hours while you are at the hospital. I don't know if you'd be allowed to pump by your baby's bedside, perhaps not if he's in ICU, worth asking. If not there will be an expressing room somewhere in NICU, take reading material and a picture of your baby as it helps milk production.

- You pump into sterile plastic bottles, either the milk is used straight away or it goes in the hospital if you have extra. They'll have a labelling system and you'll have to sterilise your pump attachments regularly.

- If you go home before your baby, you will also need to pump at home, at least once in the middle of the night to keep up your supply. You can hire a hospital grade pump, the hospital should know how to do this. I used a normal electric pump though (Ameda lactaline). As a pp said you can call the hospital any time to see how the baby is, I used to phone while pumping. You can put the milk you express at home into the fridge or freezer (take some of their sterile bottles home with you) and take to the hospital in a cool bag.

- The actual tube feeding is pretty easy, the tricky part is checking the tube is actually in their tummy (done by drawing a bit of fluid up the tube and checking its pH). The nurses did this bit but if your baby comes home tube fed I guess you would need to do it. then you draw milk into syringe, attach syringe to tube and hold it in the air so the milk flows down the tube with gravity (arm ache!!)

minipie Mon 24-Oct-16 14:48:23

Forgot to say - good luck! Hope your little one recovers well.

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