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Baby in intensive care - first feeding help

(9 Posts)
Cobo Sat 13-Dec-14 08:03:35

I would really appreciate help /advice from anyone who's been through this. DS was born on Wednesday and immediately diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and put into intensive care. I've been hand expressing as he can't feed at all yet (we can't even hold him) and my milk came in this morning. This seems to be going well, no problems with supply so far.

But I'm worried about what happens when I do get to try feeding DS, which may be today. He's a very sleepy baby, even off sedation he's barely awake, and I'm worried that this, combined with never having fed, will make it hard. Does anyone have any tips for getting a sleepy, inexperienced baby to start feeding?

margaritasroastingbyanopenfire Sat 13-Dec-14 08:13:06

Congratulations on your lovely boy. It sounds like you are doing a great job in difficult circumstances.

I think it might be a help to actually talk to someone. Could you call National Breastfeeding helpline? 0300 100 0212.

If you do get to feed him today, it is just a first try, not an indication of how things will go. He is sleepy due to medication and that might mean things don't go quite as you hope. It's ok. You'll get plenty more goes.

I don't know if you will get the chance to have skin to skin contact, but this can help with a sleepy baby.

You could try putting a drop of milk on his nose, which can sometimes stimulate their interest.

If a latch isn't comfortable, could you ask a midwife to help you with positioning?

mumonashoestring Sat 13-Dec-14 08:14:03

Has he had an NG tube for feeds so far or have they been using a bottle? It'll be easier if they've used an NG tube as he won't have learned the different kind of sucking action that goes with bottle feeding, but you may find he's a bit impatient as he'll be used to his full feed going in in one go rather than having to work for it smile When DS was in NNU I used toto go over and change him, which would wake him up properly, then sit in a nice comfy chair, express enough so that there was milk sitting on my nipple, then brush it across his lips. Oh, and keep an eye on him while feeding - if he starts dozing off, rub his earlobe a little or talk to him to try and keep him awake enough to finish a feed.

And don't be too shy to ask if there's a nurse, midwife or volunteer breastfeeding adviser who can come and help - I don't know if it's your first but anyone who tells you "oh it should just come naturally dear" is talking out of the wrong hole!

bakingtins Sat 13-Dec-14 08:14:38

Congratulations on the birth of your baby and big hugs for how difficult a start to motherhood you have had. The NICU staff will be there to help you. Lots of skin to skin as soon as you are able to hold him will help. Put him, wearing only a nappy, inside your top snuggled up to your breast and just see if he gets the idea and starts rooting. I would think his tube will be in for some time so no massive pressure for him to 'get' breastfeeding straight away, but he'll benefit from the close contact with you and it will be good for your supply as well. My DD was early and tiny and spent some time in SCBU being tube fed expressed milk. Thankfully she had no major issues but found breastfeeding hard work - she was using more calories feeding than she was getting from the milk she managed to get. When the tube was taken out I had to express and top her up with a bottle, limiting her sucking to 15 mins so she didn't exhaust herself.
Hope you get your first cuddle today. flowers

SpottyTeacakes Sat 13-Dec-14 08:20:56

Congratulations! Ds was in SCBU and tube fed for the first ten days, we didn't get to hold him for a good few days either. When I did feed him he took to it really well and the nurses were really helpful. Has he been given a dummy? Often they give a dummy when being tube fed to associate sucking with a full tummy.

I don't have much advice I'm afraid but good luck and make sure you're not too engorged (as expressing can leave you between pumping!) or he will struggle to latch.

callamia Sat 13-Dec-14 08:43:18

It took us about a week to get it right, and that was with some good support from breastfeeding supporters. DS was in nicu for a different reason, and was NG and bottle fed. He was released after about a week, and I had no idea what I was doing and neither did he. We needed someone to help with positioning and latch, but it wasn't impossible. We did plenty of skin to skin cuddling, and we got there. We're still going 14m later.

Don't give yourself any pressure for it to just work, you've still got the tube back up - just get as much support as you can. Good luck!

HSMMaCM Sat 13-Dec-14 10:08:37

Even with no additional problems it took over a week to get DD feeding 'right', so don't put pressure on yourself to make it perfect the first time. Everyone else has given very good advice. Congratulations and good luck.

Cobo Sat 13-Dec-14 12:11:23

Thanks everyone. He's been tube fed so far, no bottles, so that's good. He's just SO sleepy - we've barely seen his eyes open - it's hard at the moment to imagine him more lively.

He's my second, and I BF DS1 for 2 years, so I have that experience, but DS was healthy and always enthusiastic so I have no experience of sleepy babies who might not initially be interested. Fi gers crossed we get a go at it today.

ToniWol Mon 15-Dec-14 17:07:17


Just to echo what PPs have said about using a nappy change to wake your DS before feeding. DD had breathing difficulties and was in NICU/SCBU for 4 days after being born and whilst we started feeding relatively quickly. I did have to express as well as she wasn't always happy to wake up. But changing her first helped with getting her alert.

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