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Thread: Breastfeeding very prem babies?

  1. #1

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    Default Breastfeeding very prem babies?

    Hi girls,
    I have a friend who had her membranes completely rupture at 20 weeks and she has been sitting in hospital since then and is almost 24 weeks now. So things are looking fairly positive at present and she has lots of people praying that she gets a healthy baby at last as she has been trying for 10 years.
    anyway I was thinking about breastfeeding and wonders what happens with very prem babies. I am guessing they are not strong enough to suck for some weeks so have to be fed via a tube, is that correct? And what do the mums do to make sure their supply comes in and is available when baby is able to breastfeed eventually. And at what stage are they usually able to breastfeed? It is something I have never really thought about but I was hoping I could give her some answers if we are talking about this.
    thanks


  2. #2

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    Anney, my friend had a baby at 24w+2 over 2 years ago now (and he is a healthy 2yo!). You are correct that they can't suck when very premmie, and are fed by tube/syringe etc depending on the stage they are at. My friend was having to pump every 3 hours day and night to maintain her supply, but she felt it was worth it to provide her baby with bm. A very good pump makes this easier, but of course it is still a huge commitment.

    I have my fingers crossed for your friend, I hope the little tacker stays put for a while yet.

  3. #3

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    Hi there

    good luck to your friend and i hope she makes it quite a few more weeks yet.

    Brendan was born at 30wks and he was tube fed for 5.5 weeks. Babies generally learn the suck reflex at around the 34wks mark. But if bubs is still in ICU then BF is almost impossible. I had to express every 3hours for the entire time he was in the NICU/SCN.

    Good luck all the best

  4. #4

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    Hope all goes well with your friend

    They do get tube-fed and breastmilk are best for premmies.
    Tip: Get someone to show her how to use a breast pump. I was a lost case and had to ask a fellow patient to show me how to put the thing together and how to work it. It was extreamly frustrating to not know, so help her to prepear for that. I would recomend to help her find someplace where she can hire a double pump. The more time you spent pumping, the less time you get to sit at your angel's side, kwim??
    I expressed (handpump at first and then got myself some batteries) every three hours (5 minutes per breast) and then every two hours. I stored it in sterile bottles and the NICU staff would feed her as needed. I donated the rest to the milk-bank. When you pump, you stimulate A LOT, so you have plenty and when bubba only needs about 1ml per feed the rest can be put to good use for other bubbas. It also made me feel worthy. Made me feel like I am a mother. Not being able to cuddle your newborn is hell and makes you feel like a failure, but milk was something I could give, kwim??

    Like Sally said, at around 34 weeks, they can start feeding from the boob. She will have to keep expressing, because she would not be present for all the feeds.

  5. #5

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    like the others said "most" babies dont get their sucking reflex till around 35weeks.
    My son was born at 33weeks and we didnt start "TRYING" (and thats all it was) until 35weeks.
    but even then because they are usually a lto smaller it takes a lot of lot of effort from both baby and mum to get it going.

    Nixon used to constantly fall asleep while feeding, take over an hour to feed in a 3hr cycle and i'd have to say we didnt get the whole bf thing down pat until he was about 4months old.

    Even when you deliver prematurley those hormones that tell our body to start producing milk still happen. Although it can take a few days longer for our milk to come in it still will.

    Most mums to prems start pumping (expressing) soon after birth and do so every few hours. Then keep on storing it until bub is strong enough to take milk via a nasal gastric tube.

    i hope your friends bub holds on a bit longer and everything goes ok.

  6. #6

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    Thanks girls, that is great information. I visited on Thursday which was 24 weeks and she really can't talk babies yet so I did not talk to her about feeding. I think it is a protection mechanism as while she is only this far along, the outcome could go either way I guess. Next week she is being transferred to Jessie Mac. at Monash which has the special care nursery for very premmies (I can never remember if that is a 3rd level or 1st level).
    Brendan's mum, gosh he was a tiny thing. must have been a very scary time for you.
    Nadine, good on you donating to the milkbank. I don't think we have them here yet.

  7. #7

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    Hi,
    I had a premmie baby. She was feed via a tube for the 1st 6ish weeks from my expressed milk, as she was too young to suck. After that I breastfeed her but it was quite difficult as she became lazy and knew if she didn't feed off me she would be feed anyway by the tube. To get her started as we tried everything and she wouldn't attach we used a new method called finger feeding, where we attached a feeding tube to my finger and let her suck on it and so then she associate sucking with feeding. It worked straight away and the next feed she was sucking!! This method doesn't work for everyone but it worked wonders for me!!

  8. #8

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    I second what everyone else has said! And I also wanted to add that the hospital where I had DS loaned me an electronic pump and I expressed every 3 hours! When you have a premmie baby thats all you can do! You can also hire them from some chemists so you dont have to buy them or manualy do it!
    Good luck to your friend! Hopefully she will keep holding on and her baby won't be too impatient!
    Take care
    xox

  9. #9

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    Yep - just sit at that pump. My DD was 34wks (altho they have her as 33+5) and she sucked from the beginning.. but had to be taken off all suck feeds coz she was losing weight with the effort. But I was at that rotten pump after every feed. I used to joke that I was off to the dairy. I had such a stockpile in the freezer (unfortunately the fridge broke and it all defrosted and had to be chucked )

    An interesting tid-bit tho.. your body actually produces special premmie milk! Not sure what's different exactly but it is different to 'normal' newborn milk. Our bodies are so clever

    Oh, also - you can hire breastpumps from the ABA. Might be something she could look into. You can end up waiting in a queue for the pump if you use the hospital one at the NICU.

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