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breast eeding a premature baby

(10 Posts)
monkeyfeet Wed 22-Jul-09 07:34:05

I am having an ecs around 34 to 36 weeks and was wondering if anyone has any advice on breasteeding. I want to bf asap if all is well with the baby, but do I need to be expressing beforehand to stimulate milk, and I have heard babies cant bf before 35 weeks.

Thanks for any help

kidcreoleandthecoconuts Wed 22-Jul-09 07:41:14

I don't think babies under 35 weeks gestation have a good suck/swallow reflex so that would be the reason bf could be tricky initially. But having said that 34-36 weeks isnt that prem so you may be able to feed straight away without much trouble. If not you need to start expressing asap after the birth and also putting the baby to the breast even if the baby doesnt feed as this will help with milk production.
You need to speak to your midwife and explain your desire to breastfeed. I cant see a problem.
Good luck!

SusieDerkins Wed 22-Jul-09 08:12:48

Ds2 was born at almost 35 weeks and had no suck/swallow reflex. It was very hard to get going with bfeeding but I perservered (for what felt like weeks) and got lots of help. Seek out all the help you can from midwives/breastfeeding counsellors and if I were you I'd hang on as long as you possibly can - ds2 also had other (minor) issues as a result of his prematurity.

Good luck. smile

CMOTdibbler Wed 22-Jul-09 09:39:14

My DS was born at 35 weeks exactly, and was tube fed for the first couple of days as he was poorly and was on minimal handling. I hand expressed every 3 hours day and night for him.

When he was able to be handled more, I put him to the breast just before his feed, and then his feed was put down his tube while he was close to my breast (to associate the fullness with breast). When my milk came in, I started double pumping with the SCBU pump.

After 2 days, he was feeding well enough to have his tube out, and we left hospital exclusively bf, and never looked back.

GeorgeTheSlitheen Wed 22-Jul-09 09:47:50

You wont need to express before your baby is born but if you can't put your baby to the breast immediatly i'd reccomend pumping within a few hours and then pumping frequently untill you can. At 35/36 weeks you should be able to breastfeed straight away though.

Some babies can suck before 35 weeks , My ds was having effective Breastfeeds from about 33 weeks ( he was born at 27 ) but did need topping up too as it wore him out to much. He came home fully breastfed at 36 weeks and we're having difficulty getting him off the boob now at 7 months !

Hangingbellyofbabylon Wed 22-Jul-09 09:50:43

dd was born at 35+0 - be prepared that they will want to give your baby formula as soon as they are born which I wasn't expecting. She was then tube fed formula and I also got the hospital breat pump and double pumped from day one - any tiny drops of colostrum I put on her lips for her to lick. I also put her on the breast a few times a day just for a snuggle. As soon as my milk came in (about day 3) she then had my milk in her tube. I kept trying to breastfeed and it was hard work, didn't always feel the midwives were encouraging and I think they thought I was mad when I made them wake me in the night to pump milk or to try to feed dd. She starting feeding properly on day 5 and on day 6 we were able to go home. smile. I'm not saying the battle was over, I'd say it took a further 3 months or so before she really got the hang of it and she then became a real expert and only gave up feeding at 2.5!. You do need perseverance and lots of support, in the beginning it would sometimes take her up to 20 mins to latch on properly and she also got tired very quickly so lots and lots of little feeds regularly and none of this every 3 hours crap the hospital tried to feed me! Basically everytime she opened her teeny mouth and so much as whimpered I popped a boob in smile. When she started feeding in hospital they told me she would instantly lose weight and it would delay us going home - she didn't, she gained straight away.

Good luck, it is nerve wracking and we were told that in most cases 35 weeks is the point where they probably won't need oxygen and can breathe well alone (if they are well etc) and 36 weeks is the point where they probably won't need tube feeding as the sucking reflex kicks in between 35 and 36 weeks.

It's a scary time and you may not feel up to it so make sure any family and friends who know you want to breastfeed can be there to back you up. I may sound cynical but in the hospital I was in they were very much into taking the early babes away at night and sticking them in the nursery, breastfeeding was actually described as 'making life hard for myself'. hmm Hope your hospital is better - and whilst I'm here I think I'll name and shame - Poole Hospital.

monkeyfeet Wed 22-Jul-09 20:07:18

Thanks everyone for your replies. Your experiences have given me a much better idea of what to expect. I have one dd with whom I found bf very easy but and had a very easy full term and labour. I do feel very strongely about bf and will really try. My dh is very supportive too and I think I will try and see the NCT bf councillor beforehand.

TheProvincialLady Wed 22-Jul-09 20:12:56

Good plan, I was just going to suggest seeing a BF counsellor in advancesmile Hope all goes well for you.

Bobo23 Thu 23-Jul-09 21:05:42

There's been a few threads on here recently about b/f-ing prem babies... My DS was born at 34 weeks after an ECS but couldn't latch on for about 4 weeks cos he was so tiny (2 lb 12oz at birth) so I expressed and he was tube fed. He had a condition that meant it was imperative he had breast milk so that was a real incentive for me. I started expressing colostrum straight out of the operating theatre as I wanted to have that contact with my baby who had been whisked away to SCBU intensive care.

Cut a long story short - 6 months down the line he's about 11 1/2 pounds and I'm still breastfeeding and loving it!! Did you know that the milk that mothers of prem babies produce is specially adapted to their babies' needs?

As ever - loads of good info on kellymom

Good luck!

RascalMama Thu 23-Jul-09 22:47:16

My DD was born at 31 weeks (weighing a tiny 2lb) and I started pumping as soon as I was well enough. She was then fed my milk via NG tube until she finally latched on and took her first feed at 8.5 weeks old (ie 39.5wks gestation)Most babies do feed sooner than this and DD's prob was her size (she was so small she tired really easily) but please don't feel disheartened if your baby doesn't feed straight away.

It was bloody hard work pumping every 3hrs day and night and there were days I sat there in tears thinking she would never be able to breastfeed. And like HangingBelly support from the NICU staff was poor/minimal and I was made to feel like I was being a martyr for wanting to breastfeed


It is the BEST thing I have ever done in my entire life. I can't explain how wonderful a feeling it is when your prem baby latches on for the first time Just magical. And at 19mths old she is still going strong and I love it just as much now as I did in the early days.

I would strongly urge you to make contact now with your hospital's breast feeding consultant/co-ordinator. She can then help support you with your attempts at feeding and also to be there for you if the staff in the unit aren't as supportive as you need.

It is YOUR baby and YOUR choices. Formula is touted as being better for babies to help put weight on etc but from what I have learnt and read since my DD came home what they said was a load of B****s

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