My daughter was born at 35.5 weeks 2 weeks ago. From the beginning, I've been pumping and giving her breastmilk through a bottle with some supplements of formula earlier on when my supply wasn't enough. The lactation consultants in the hospital encouraged me to start out this way because they didn't think she'd have the energy to feed directly from the breast and the priority was on getting her to gain weight. (She's 15th percentile for weight for a 35 weeker.) I've also been told to wake her every 3 hours around the clock for feedings (in the 2 weeks since she's been born, I could count on 1 hand the number of times she woke on her own and seemed hungry - almost always I have to wake her up to eat).
I'd like to transition her to breastfeeding at some point, but I'm not sure how/when to make that transition. The complicating thing is that she's still in that super sleepy preemie phase when it's a huge challenge to wake her enough to feed from a bottle (takes her an hour sometimes to take an ounce despite cold washcloths, being stripped down, etc.). So, I can't imagine that breastfeeding will work for us at this point since it requires even more effort on her part. I have been putting her to my breast for about 10 minutes before feedings and she'll latch on and take about 3 sucks, but that's as far as she'll go. Given that it takes a lot of effort to get her to take more than 3 sucks in a row from a bottle at this point, I'm not surprised that she doesn't last longer.
So, my questions are:
1. Is there anything else I should be doing at this point to increase the chances that she'll eventually successfully transition to breastfeeding?
2. Since feedings from a bottle are time-consuming/challenging enough as it is for us at this point, does it make sense to wait until she's "woken up" (I hear this tends to happen a couple weeks after their due date?) and is a more active eater from a bottle before making an effort to transition her to the breast?
3. Are there any particular bottles/nipples I should use in the meantime to increase the chances of a successful transition?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advice! I really appreciate it.