Due to an infection my up to then healthy triplets were born at a gestational age of 24+3 weeks. My daughter and younger son died during NICU time and only the "eldest" (but with 690g smallest) survived with almost every complication that can occur in premature birth. I won't write about my grief and don't ask for condolences, it all hurts too much and so I am concentrating on what there is to do right now.
The hospital was not supporting breastfeeding, so I could try to latch him on for the first time around 36 weeks gestational age all on my own. He did not drink anything for weeks but then seemed to slowly get the hang of it. After the last operation that relieved him from a lot of pain, he was finally discharged from hospital at 48+1 and became way more peaceful but at the same time ceased drinking almost completely. Today he is 49+4 weeks of gestational age.
On a finger he can suck strongly but he never sucked well on the breast and at the moment seems to not suck at all. Nurses and physiotherapists are completely happy with his ability to suck when they put a finger to his palate. The LC was happy with how latching and breastfeeding looked. We tried breast shield, SNS and bottle but it all did not work/help. He is still fed through a gavage tube, which is a sad, wrong thing and some kind of vicious circle to us.
Sometimes, he seems to dislike drinking although he made clear signs before (searching, stretching out tongue, smacking). For example when I am trying to feed him on one breast and pump on the other one or I feel the let down of milk (so I can be sure some milk is flowing), he gets off the breast after maybe one minute and seems like he just wants to be pacified and not drink anything. (I don't have problems with milk supply and since 40+0 he is fed exclusively with breastmilk and gaining well - 5,5kg [12lbs] now.)
Another problem is that he does not cry and rarely wakes up when he is hungry and usually sleeps during the tube feeding.
Unfortunately there was no one in the hospital who had expertise or experience with breastfeeding extremely premature children, so I am happy to have found this forum at last - it seems that here are some breastfeeding parents to extremely prematurely born children - so I hope for to get some ideas on what else we might try or improve and for experience from other parents.
Two specific questions are:
How can I make him suck well on the breast like he does on a finger?
How can we help him "realize and verbalize" his appetite/hunger?
But if you have any ideas that might help us, please tell us.
(I apologize for my poor English, obviously I am no native speaker.)