Friday, November 4, 2011

Preemie Nursling

Nursing a preemie has been a challenge.  I challenge I really thought I was up for.  But, sometimes I find myself wanting to give up.  Those give up moments come after 45 minute battles of trying to get Zachary latched (and staying) on the breast. 

Sometimes he will latch on great, and nurse all his feedings all day.  Other times, he cries screams and refuses to latch on.  Oh, and there are the times he just wont wake up even after 4.5 hours of sleeping.  Pedi does not want him going more than 4.5 hours without eating.  He is little and needs to eat and gain his weight so he can get bigger and stronger.  I think he could sleep the day away if we'd let him.

During the night is when we have the most trouble.  Maybe because I'm exhausted and fighting a screaming baby who could potentially activate 2 year old screaming toddler at 3am.  It all just gets so frustrating.  When I've had enough of trying to get him to latch, he gets a bottle of expressed breast milk.  Then, I feel like a failure. 

There are a few problems going on here....  1. I have one flat nipple, didn't know that until I tried to breastfeed. 2.  My good nipple (his favorite side) hurts like fucking hell!!! Not bleeding or cracked, but OH MY GOD, when he does latch on I could cry.  I have milk, I pump and I get plenty of milk for him.  Somehow, someway this has to get better.  I want it to work, I don't want for both of us to get so stressed out during our nursing time. 

Laurie went out and got me a nipple shield.  Who ever invented this thing is a freakin' genius.  I put it on, and he latches on with little fuss onto the flat side, and it helps with the pain on the other.  Only problem is,  it's so easy to use, I want to always use it.  It is for temporary use, but it works so well!!!  For right now, my during the day plan is to work with him latching without the shield and only using it when it's really needed, and at night, using it because it's amazing and he nurses without having that battle at 3am.  When he latches on, I love it!  I love being able to provide his food for him and to hear him gulp the milk, and the milk drunk sleepy baby I get afterwards.  But, I just wish it came easier.  I hope that this is all just because he is small, and has had mostly bottles for all of his feeds in the NICU.  This is new to him, and new to me.  We were only able to nurse one feeding in the NICU and I really wish I took advantage of the LC there.  Hopefully, we'll find our groove.

I use lanolin after each feed, beast shield, I try many different positions,  anyone have any other tricks of the breastfeeding trade?  If you had to wake your baby to feed, how'd you do it? 


  1. You know, I NEEDED the nipple shield. I couldn't breastfeed our daughter and wish I had known about them from the start. With our son and my utter exhaustion, I resorted to some bottles. the kid was smart and refused to nurse after that. I also have flat nipples. So I used the shields and OMG they work beautifully. I tried to get rid of them but he wasn't having it and sometimes it would HURT so much.

    I used them for 3 months. I think you can expect to use them for a while. Later on I'd just rinse them out with soap and water after a feed and tuck them in my bra so I had them with me at all times. At 3 months, I was able to take them away and we were both fine. So use them as long as you have to.

    for waking up--try stripping him down to make him a little less comfortable. We had to strip our daughter down to her diaper when trying to breastfeed her so she'd be awake for the feed. Also tickling the feet when they start falling asleep can help.

  2. Be kind with yourself. My duo was born at 36 weeks and took me a good three months to get both of them to become proficient b-feeders all the time. I used the nipple shield for quite some time - his little mouth is so small, that I am guessing the shield really helps. And if it works - then go with it. Don't worry about the next phase, when he gets a bit bigger you can work on weaning him off of it- but for right now know you are a rock star for not giving up!

  3. Hang in there mama. We too had tons of BFing issues and looking back my biggest piece of advice is; know things will get better. Whatever way they have to... things will get better. I remember we use to have to not only strip our girls down for night time feedings but (this sounds horrible) put them on the cold hard floor to get them to wake.

    When they were around 6ish weeks old things started getting better. I remember at this point just letting go and believing with all my heart that my little one would at some point figure this out. And she did...

    I tried the shield and hated it and my girl had a hard time ditching it but if it's working for you I think you should stay with what works. And know that things continue getting better - I remember getting to about the 8 week mark and thinking wow these girls have it down and then now a few weeks later they are even better at it.

    I also liked the mother love nipple cream and used it more frequently for pain. Also warm washcloth before hand and keeping everything dry between feedings. Sometimes I would also pump before hand to get nipples ready and even flow out. Allowing better longer latching. Also we only did football hold in the beginning and the latch seemed better and easier for all. Once the girls got better we now do different holds without issue but they needed more support and angle in the beginning.

    Lots of luck and love your way!

  4. i dont have any advice, just wanted to send a (hug) of support.

  5. Have you tried nursing lying down? That's the only thing that worked for us. I also had tons of milk that ironically caused issues because Moesha was choking on it. So I was told to express some before I started nursing. I have flat nipples and we used the shield for at least 6 weeks, then she developped the good eating habits. I wouldnt nurse once with and once without.

  6. Have you tried a dream feed? If he is still asleep try latching him on (asleep!) These would be the easiest feeds for me and Charlie.

  7. I had a hell of a time nursing, and Buggie was only three weeks early. She wouldn't latch on and I had to feed her with a dropper and then a bottle. We then graduated to nipple shields and used them for a few weeks every feeding until she figured it out. The lactation consultant I worked with said she just needed to cook a little more, which I think was true. She now nurses like a champ.

    Breastfeeding is by far the hardest and most frustrating thing I've ever done. Hang in there and remember to be kind to yourself. You're such a great mom and doing everything you can for your little one.

  8. You are definitely not a failure! You are doing a remarkable job. Hope it gets better!

  9. Use the shield if it helps! You've only been doing this for a little while!! Worry about ditching the shield when the latch is real good and easy.

    Get two or three shields, that way you don't have to wash them like crazy. I kept mine in a paci pod, kept them clean and close at hand.

    When you do use a bottle, make sure you are using the slowest flow nipple (newborn or stage 1) and keep the feeding slow. You don't want it to be easier than nursing. Take lots of breaks for burping.

    Try the nursing lying down. I loved it when my nurslings were little.

    At 3am, do whatever is the easiest!!

    You are doing amazing. You can't make too many mistakes, if something isn't working, you can change it. Give yourself and baby some time to figure this newborn thing out! Next thing you'll know, he isn't a newborn anymore.


  10. First of all, kudos to you for sticking with it. Second, USE THE SHIELD!! I had to use one for Little Man due to flat nipples and successfully breastfed him for a year. We used the shield every feed and never got rid of it. What is most important is letting Zachary have your milk. Youare doing a great job.

  11. Hi, this is Katie from Medela. It's great to hear you're dedicated to providing the best care and nutrition for your little one. If you ever have breastfeeding questions, you can ask our Lactation Consultant here: