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Breastfeeding premature baby

(16 Posts)
greenemerald Tue 24-Mar-20 15:57:00

Hello ladies. I'm due to give birth in the next couple of weeks. It will be a pre-term delivery (could be as early as 32w gestation) as we have a couple of complications. All depends on regular monitoring.

I really want to breastfeed. Does anyone have any experience of BF a premmie baby? I'm not sure whether I should have formula back up incase it's not possible for us.

KHall84 Tue 24-Mar-20 16:02:19

I dont have experience but I know they say start expressing about 2 weeks before your going to deliver for a preterm if you know in advance and freeze it and then it can be fed via syringe and then you would carry on expressing once born as well until they are able to latch on them selfs xx

Tyjaro75 Tue 24-Mar-20 16:23:38

In regards to expressing, speak to your midwife and check first. I had twins and they were born at 36 weeks. I was told not to express beforehand as it could bring on labour.
My twins were 5lb 5 and 4lb. The smallest twin breastfed really well and got it straight away. Although because she was so little, she got tired out by it really quickly. My bigger twin struggled and took her a while to get it.

Windyatthebeach Tue 24-Mar-20 16:24:34

Ds was born at 35 weeks. Bf the next day.
Good luck op.

Bootsray Tue 24-Mar-20 19:35:36

Hi my twins were born at 32 weeks, I expressed milk and this was fed to them via a tube. I was told my little one's suck reflex might not be developed enough and to expect tube feeding at 32 weeks. My boys were trialled on breastfeeding (from about 34 weeks) but they did get tired and couldn't manage a full feed on the breast. They found a bottle easier to feed from, I combination fed them for 8 weeks then they had formula after that. I'd say go with what works for you but take it a day at a time. x

Umberellaellaella Tue 24-Mar-20 20:07:33

My daughter was born at 34 weeks, she had to be tube fed for a couple of days and I expressed, hospital grade pumps are amazing, after the first couple of days it was a bit of both breast and tube as she didn't get what to do straight away, they will supply the storage bottles, you will need to pump every couple of hours day and night until baby is on full breast feeds.
It's hard work with a preemie but the nicu nurses are beyond brilliant try to stay in as long as you can to stay with baby as it will make breastfeeding easier, during the night nicu would call my ward whenever she was crying and I'd come straight over, after the week I was allowed to room in for 2 nights while baby stayed in my room, the rooms are just across the corridor in case of emergency, I was also trained what to do if I thought she had stopped breathing.
I fed her for 8 months and cried when I had to stop she's my youngest and last child I loved how easy it was and was really sad that I'd never get to breastfeed again.
Normally you can have a little tour around nicu if you're likely to have a preemie but with the coronavirus it's now unlikely as they are really limiting visitors, but you could check on local facebook groups for any reviews or info for your closest ward good luck with your baby!

greenemerald Tue 24-Mar-20 21:17:29

Thank you all for your comments. I haven't been told to express yet, but I understand usually they encourage to express the colostrum into syringes for baby to take once they're here, and then later to express when the milk comes in.

@Umberellaellaella glad all went ok for your daughter! I was hoping to get a tour but yes unlikely but understandable. Was your baby IUGR by any chance? Ours is hence the preparation for early delivery. How many weeks was your Dd in for at the NICU? I really need to ask my consultant more questions about what to expect post delivery as don't really feel informed yet.

ICJump Tue 24-Mar-20 21:23:04

I have several friends who breastfed prem babies. I breastfed my NICU baby also. She had a few mls of formula but apart from that was just me. She had a tube for the formula and i fed her at the breast while she had the formula in the tube. This booklet is Australian but is really worth while. Plenty of info plus some mothers stories.

greenemerald Tue 24-Mar-20 21:26:27

@ICJump reassuring that you had a good experience with breastfeeding! It seems like lots of mothers manage it well. Gives me hope that we should be able to, too.

Umberellaellaella Tue 24-Mar-20 21:29:15

@emeraldgreen no my waters broke really early, it was stopped but due to change in movements they decided it was safest to do an elective section a couple of days later, she was actually a really big baby and dread to think how big she could have been if I'd have gone overdue! She was in 9 days in total it was a whirlwind of change hourly and without a doubt the most stressful time of my life but it's also really not so scary in nicu as I'd have imagined, theres definitely a sense of togetherness I've not experienced anywhere else before.

ICJump Tue 24-Mar-20 21:32:16

Have you had a look into kangaroo care? Its for premmie babies and the idea is you do as much skin to skin contact as possible. We found it really helpful as a family. It helped that we had discussed it first so that my partner had a button down shirt he was wearing, i had a wrap dress to wear post birth so we could easily have baby skin to skin.

FraterculaArctica Tue 24-Mar-20 21:33:56

My DS was born at 33+4 and 4 months later he is exclusively breastfed though it was a long haul. He spent 2.5 weeks in NICU (in 2 different hospitals). I had no problems expressing and he was on full EBM via tube feeds by day 2, but he was my 3rd baby which speeds up milk coming in.

However he was very sleepy and slow to establish oral feeding and remained tube fed on and off until 38 weeks equivalent. Then they insisted he came off the tube but his weight gain stalled and for 2 hellish weeks before Christmas I had to triple feed (basically breastfeed, top up with EBM by bottle, and then express, every 3 hours). Glad I stuck with it though especially in the current stressful climate!

Don't think I'd recommend pre-birth colostrum harvesting as it might trigger early labour, but you should be able to check that with your midwife.

TheLinerunner Tue 24-Mar-20 21:49:44

My DS was 35 weeks and like pp ^^ I was able to breastfeed the next day. He was 5lb. I was able to bf him for 6months before I had to go back to work f/t (horrible hours).

peajotter Tue 24-Mar-20 21:51:18

My dc3 was very early and breastfed. As pp said, you will get a hospital grade machine to express and she will probably be tube fed at first. There are lots of tips to help with expressing as it can be harder to establish than bf. In particular try doing it by the side of the incubator, or with a picture of your baby. You need to express often to keep your supply high even though you don’t need it at first. My dd was on 2ml every 2 hours at first so I stored the extra milk for use later.

Also bear in mind that lots of advice for full term babies doesn’t apply to preemies. In particular, once your baby learns to suck-swallow-breathe, it is better to combination feed (breast when mum is there, expressed milk in bottles overnight). I had been told with my full term babies not to introduce bottles of ebm so early, but preemies don’t seem to notice, and it’s important to get them to learn to suck.

Finally, in my experience the midwives are generally very good at starting expressing. But once you get in, find out who in the nicu is the bf expert. I found the advice on nicu was variable as they are primarily experts in babies. Come back and ask if you have any questions. Hope it goes well.

Purple29 Mon 30-Mar-20 04:27:17

@greenemerald hope all is going well, I am currently living in accommodation and my baby is in NICU, born at 30 weeks.

It's not been an easy road with expressing for me. I was encouraged to start hand expressing colostrum within an hour of birth. Then hand expressed every few hours for the next day or while introducing the pump.

It took a while to establish for me and even after 3 weeks my volumes have never been as high as some peoples.

Best advice is be kind to yourself about it all, you will be doing the best you can for your baby. I am now producing enough to exclusively feed just my milk. We used donor milk to start with, not sure if that's an option but better for their little tummy.

Also talk to the nurses and other mums at the unit. Very few people will understand what it's like and the emotions you go through when baby is in NICU.

Purple29 Mon 30-Mar-20 04:33:42

Also, someone else mentioned it, skin to skin is so important for you and baby. So do it often and try and express right after it.

As soon as you can try and get baby to taste milk at your breast. They might be too small to get bf to start with but tasting and letting them lick milk at your nipple will def help supply and hormones needed to establish feeding.

Try to get baby to latch on, a good time initially is when you've not long expressed, so as not to overload them with milk and when they are due a feed. They will associate the taste with they're tummy filling up if you do this as they are being tube fed and this can make it easier to transition from tube feeding to bf.

They dont develop suck/swallow/breathe reflex till about 34/35 weeks. But the staff will actively help you to establish feeding.

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