Hi - just wanted to share my experience with those of you mums with 'early birds' who are in SCBU or just home and struggling with establishing b/feeding.
My little one was born 27+5 and 2lb and in hospital for 3 months. The first hospital was hot on b/feeding and, in my shocked state, was marched to the pumping room and gently encouraged to get pumping ... we didn't realise at the time (and knew nothing about milk production!!) this was the BEST thing that could have happened and gave me and my husband (who fetched, labelled and stacked bottles in the fridge diligently!) something to do aside from sitting cotside and chasing consultants for information and scans.
When our little one was moved to another hospital and was finally well enough and ready to try b/feeding, despite our clearly stated wishes, the nasal canula was taken out and bottles given as priority. This was a tick boxing mistake for many reasons I will not go into now (and we have made formal complaint) - our baby of course got used to bottles and by the time I made the commute to the hospital every day he was too tired to attempt to breastfeed. This was really discouraging as everything we had learnt about premature babies and their extra needs really made us want to breastfeed. We were pretty devastated by many things that happened in that hospital but stayed quietly determined to keep up the pumping regime so he could at least have EBM - our plan was to have another go when we finally broke him out of there around his due date.
Luckily the mass 'over'pumping sessions at Hospital 1 was frozen at home and became as precious as liquid gold as we spent the next 2 months slowly weaning him off the bottle and onto the boob!
(Aside: it was also brilliant when we went on holiday, slowly defrosting on the flights!)
I also realised (and no one had explained this, but in retrospect its pretty obvious) when he was so small, he was 5lbs when he came home, it was hard to physically latch on to my nipple but as he got bigger and stronger he really did get the hang of it!
It was the hardest challenge of my life and so many times felt like giving up but when he finally became a pro feeder at around 5-6 months and we realised we weren't doing bottles anymore we were so happy and proud- and he was so chuffed with himself... !!
He is now 13 months old and we are still going strong - wondering what I'm going to do when I go back to work in 3 weeks!!
I am so happy that despite the discouragement at Hospital 2 and sabotage of our breastfeeding plan, we have been able to give our little one the best possible chance to do what every baby wants to do naturally... we know v.early premies are so susceptible to catching viruses and stomach problems... aside from check ups, we have not had one trip to the doctors - he shakes off colds within a day and has only been sick about 3 times since he got home from hospital... he has never had any gastro problems...
I would really encourage any premie mum (and dad) to keep going and keep pumping away until your baby is strong enough to breastfeed... it might take a while like us but is so worth it if you can!! Good luck xxxx