One of the harder parts of having a preemie is feeding one. Depending in the age of the baby when born helps determine the maturity of her suck, swallow, breath coordination. A baby must be able to do all of those in coordination successfully to leave the hospital. Roo did well and that, along with the other things she needed to do, allowed us to leave the hospital when she did.
Before all of this happened, my thought was to exclusively breast feed her. I was super concerned about what type of pump I should buy as a mom who would be at home and would want to pump only enough to be able to leave her for date nights and other fun activities but still nurse her. In the end that mattered very little 🙂
It all changed as soon as Roo was born. Because of her gestational age at birth, 33 weeks and 5 days, Roo’s sucking technique wasn’t fully mature and still isn’t. In the hospital, she had a feeding tube to ensure she received a full feed based in a feeding protocol developed by the NICU team based in her age and weight. She was able to take most of her food from a bottle but would sometimes need some support from the tube.
I wasn’t allowed to nurse her until four days before she left the hospital and even then it was only once a day and for a short period of time. All other feedings were by the bottle using my pumped breast milk and a calorie supplement.
Because I wasn’t allowed to nurse Roo until much later, I was given a hospital grade breast pump to use and take home with me (rented). I was put on an every three hour pump schedule, which means I have to pump for 20 minutes every three hours plus Roo has to eat about every three hours. This is definitely a two person job, which means either my mom or MH has to get up with me in the night.
(don’t get me started on the 2 hour schedule I was on in the beginning to get my milk to come in!)
I’m exhausted. Pumping takes from start to finish about 30 minutes. I have to clean the parts every time to be safe for Roo. I can’t wait until I can just pop Roo onto my breast. I know there can be challenges with nursing but it’ll be so much easier than juggling both pumping and feeding her!!
I go see a location consultant on Tuesday. She is someone a former preemie mom and a March of Dimes volunteer told me about who is apparently a genius when it comes to helping preemies figure out nursing at a premature age. I’m excited!
I’ll also looking into hiring a night nurse to help me get over the anxiety I have with putting Roo down to sleep at night and to help with the middle of the night feedings. Right now I don’t sleep. I just hold her and then I switch off with my mom. I have to admit that I don’t trust MH not to fall asleep with her. That’s terrible isn’t it?
Feeding a preemie, my preemie, is a challenge for me. I know there are many others who have even harder times with feedings so I can’t complain too much but it is hard! It is demanding and it is exhausting. My body can hardly keep up – though one positive is that I look just about like I did when I was only 12 weeks pregnant! I’ve lost a lot of my baby belly that fast because of this demanding pumping schedule.
I love it though! I love the few minutes when Roo does latch on. I love being able to provide for her. I love being a mommy to my baby Roo!