On Feeding a Preemie

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 πŸ™‚

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!


7 thoughts on “On Feeding a Preemie

  1. When I was on the crazy pump and feed schedule, having many sets of the parts helped with the constant washing. Also you can just put your pump pieces in the fridge and then reuse them. I seats washed the shields because they got greasy.

    Glad you will have a lactation consultant to help you out. Mine was a lif saver.

  2. I am so unbelievably impressed with your commitment to breastfeeding your little one. I think a lot of moms would have given up by now in favor of just mixing formula and forgetting the boob. As hard as it is, it’ll all be worth it once she’s figured out solely feeding from the breast. I can’t wait to hear how it goes with the lactation consultant and as time progresses, hopefully she’ll have some amazing tips to help move things along so you can fit in a little sleep every now and then πŸ˜‰

    Thinking of you!!

  3. It’s hard and even though I don’t have a preemie I did hire a night nurse to help me. No sleeping was leading me down the dark path of being depressed. In your case it is a necesity to have someone to help you!!! Thinking of you xxx

  4. I find the Nap Nanny helpful at night because I can feed a baby/babies and pump at the same time. They seem to not get as wound up and they go right back to sleep. Kudos for pumping! I too have premies and know how difficult it is!

  5. Pumping blows. I EP’d for 4 months but when Colton had to be on special formula because of his stomach motility, it just didn’t make sense to continue for Keltie. I beat myself up and hysterically cried for the last few weeks of pumping – I felt like I was failing Keltie and giving up on my dream to EBF my twins. I will say, though, it was the best decision for me as I’m a happier mom for my kids and I can’t imagine pumping every 3 hours and feeding two babies every 3 hours. Trying to BF in the NICU was both amazing and horrible. It was amazing that both latched the few times we did it (using a nipple shield), but it wasn’t the bonding experience I expected because of the environment.

    I tell you all this because I think you’re a hero for continuing to pump and feed. I’m not one to tell anyone to quit (I know a few people who EP’d for their baby), but don’t beat yourself up if it becomes too much. I hit a very low low because of trying to do everything and have never felt the level if guilt I did when I discussed stopping pumping with my LC. She was super supportive of the decision, but I felt like a failure.

    I hope you can transition soon to EBF!

  6. A few of my fears about the babies is around nursing and the NICU – I’m worried that they’ll get used to the bottle and won’t want my boob, etc etc etc. I’m glad to hear Roo is still interested in the boob, and you are awesome for really persisting!!

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