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From the NICU to the Breast: Stage 1

This post is part 1 of a post series that I writing about my experience leaving the NICU with bottle fed preemie babies (twins) and our adventure transiting to exclusive breast feeding.

After our twin sons’ birth at 32 weeks and 3 days gestation, our boys spent two weeks in the NICU with no major interventions. The main thing they focused on was eating. They started out with feeding tubes that went down their noses into their stomach. My main objective at first was to produce breast milk, and I spent 4 days pumping very minimal amounts of colostrum until my milk finally started to come in. During the time while we were waiting for my milk to come in, the boys received formula in their feeding tubes and also received some fluids through an IV (in their tiny hands, their heads, and eventually Cole had to have a PIC line inserted because his IV kept coming out).

One morning we came into the NICU and were surprised to find the boys being bottle fed by two of the nurses. We were excited because bottles meant they were one step closer to coming home, but we also were a little sad because we didn’t get to be there for the first one or to help them with the first feed (which occurred during the middle of the night). Every day they got better at eating from a bottle and the doctor and nurses said that I could try to nurse.

Trying to breastfeed a preemie is crazy, especially if you are well endowed. In the hospital it was challenging because it was hard to hold them with all of the wires to get them in the right position. If I would make it to that point getting them to latch was next to impossible. Of all of my attempts in the NICU I think I may have had one or two successful practice sucks from both babies.

They were discharged two weeks after their birth (34 weeks gestation) and came home with bottle feeds of breast milk every three hours, two bottle feeds were Enfamil for preemies, and they also had to have 1ml of Poly Vi Soy every day (vitamins). Thankfully, when I took them to their first check up at the pediatricians office he gave me the go ahead to stop supplementing with formula and vitamins. He reminded me to keep taking my prenatal vitamin and also to add a DHA supplement.

So far our breast feeding attempts at home are pretty minimal. When they nurse it really wears them out, but I cannot wait for the day when we can nurse exclusively. Pumping, preparing bottles, washing bottle and pump parts, and feeding usually takes up to an hour and a half. Then throw in a few attempts to breastfeed, which takes Cole 20 minutes to get an ounce, and then times all that by two. Phew!

Right now my main goal is to try to make sure they both get at least 20 minutes of nursing each day to practice. I am waiting on nipple shields that I had to special order in a smaller size for the babies, and I only have one right now. My plan is that once they come in, I will try to start nursing them together and move to an on demand schedule so we can start to breastfeed exclusively. But for now, we will continue our nurse/bottle/pump routine for a little while. When I do nurse, I have someone else finish up the feed with a bottle of expressed milk to make sure they have gotten enough to eat.

Continue reading with Stage 2!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a creative-techie mom, raising three boys under three (twins!) with her husband in Pennsylvania. Jamie now writes at The Red Robinson, www.theredrobinson.com

Comments

  1. Jamie, I hear you loud and clear! Breastfeeding a preemie is so hard! Jonah would get so exhausted even after just a few minutes. I ended up giving it up before he left the hospital because he wasn’t getting it and I was stressed to the max cause I wasn’t making enough milk and was still taking 2 grad classes during all of this! Recipe for disaster! Anyways, you have my empathy and encouragement and it sounds like you are persevering! You’ll notice a huge difference when they’re due date comes around! Jonah’s NICU dr. told us we wouldn’t really know his personality until his due date and they were right. Keep it up, you can do this!

  2. Bonnie Groce says:

    Just wanted to say, after two fairly unsuccessful attempts to breastfeed two singleton full term babies, I applaud you for even trying, much less sticking to it!! GO momma!!!!!

  3. I had my Lucy at 29 weeks. She stayed in the nicu 53 days, left with 1 breastfeeding attempt a day followed with a b/m bottle and pumping, & finally got to full nursing when she was about 12 weeks old. Hardest thing ever, with a 2 year old running around too.

  4. Oh wow, Emily! That’s awesome, you’re my hero! Go you!!

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