the situation has changed quite a bit again. Yesterday we finally met a LC that saw my son in a quite fussy mood and told us that he does only suck by chance and rather is chewing all the time. He does not even suck on a finger anymore. He did suck great on the physiotherapists finger last Friday. She said we should first make him suck to get his milk by feeding him by putting a fingertip to his palate and a syringe with milk in the corner of his mouth. And that we should not offer the breast anymore before he really got it, so that he does not take the breast for a pacifier. Has anyone used such a method and succeeded yet? I don't feel comfortable with this method, I feel that with always putting (carefully) a finger in his mouth he will surely develop an aversion. But it seems that he is loosing more and more of his ability to suck right now and we have no idea how to get it back. Although the situation changes every other day, like you can see from my postings already.
We also share a bed. Since he does not wake up or cry during his sleep, he hardly ever nurses during the night. Nevertheless I meanwhile realised that he latches on way easier when he just woke up. And I also carry him around a lot :)
Thank you for telling me how long it took you, this was quite a lot of work! :)
Unfortunately I don't have anyone besides my husband, but he is working all day. Cynically we would get a nurse paid for one hour a day by the insurance but since she does not do the chores and we prefer to do the childcare ourselves and don't want to give him away for one hour a day, we don't invite her anymore.
I tried to offer him the breast as often as possible and I feel that offering a bottle or pacifier is the wrong way. Maybe bottles would have been a good idea at one point to let him know that food goes through the mouth - but he used to drink milk on the breast, so he obviously used to have this connection. But pacifiers might be one reason why he is not sucking anymore, just chewing.
I am sure that he likes being at the breast and the taste of the milk and if he wants to, he also latches on, but maintains only a very shallow vacuum.
There are so seemingly contradictory things going on:
He used to drink more and nowadays he sometimes drinks somethings, on the other hand for example with finger feeding now, he sometimes retracts as soon as milk is flowing into his mouth from a good suck - is he (generally) irritated by the flow of milk? Does he (generally) have problems with swallowing? Doctors say, he should not.
He is smacking, turning his head, licking on everything a lot like he has some appetite, on the other hand when he does not get food for 8 hours he does not seem to care and behaves just like every other day - isn't he hungry? During his NICU time he sometimes did not get any food for days, once for whole seven days and it seemed to us that he went mad at times. Maybe this has changed?
I recommend going to www.inspire.com and heading over to the preemie forums. There are many moms on there with 24 weekers who hopefully can give you some insight and suggestions on the sucking issues. Another suggestion is seeing a feeding therapist.
What a confusing place this must be for you, I'm sorry!
his medical condition is still not really stabile. He now has a VP shunt and big problems with it - since about the operation his head does not grow anymore and we hope that he gets a new valve soon. Plus since the tube weaning (tube free since the end of September) he lost a lot of weight and is not gaining anything now that he is exclusively breastfed (more on this elsewhere).
At nights he still does not wake up, but he turns his head wildly during his sleep and since I keep skin contact with him, I nowadays wake up from this and he drinks while sleeping.
During tube weaning we actually wanted to start solids, but he was not interested in taste and had an aversion to anything but skin in his mouth etc. so we came out of the weaning exclusively breastfed. That was then not too bad to me. He seems to have a good appetite and I felt it was just a question of time with starting solids. Since a week or so now he finally became interested in taste and I am sure by time he will start to eat as well.
If anyone is interested, I can tell our "tube-weaning-story", but in short we were coached by a specialized doctor to how to reduce the feeds since DS was completely overfed and hence did not want to eat himself. To start offering the breast as early as the sucking reflex came in in hospital, keep up the pumping and always offering him the breast while tube feeding as soon as we were allowed to do this and as often as he liked at home, has helped a lot, I think.