Hi everyone! This is my first post, though I have been reading other threads and been reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. My son was born on 12/21/12 at 31 weeks and 3 days, a relatively hefty 4 pounds 4 ounces. I was blessed to give birth at a hospital with a fabulous Level III NICU and that was super supportive of breastfeeding. The first time I talked to his NICU nurse I told her that I wanted to breastfeed, and about 12 hours after his birth, a lactation consultant walked into my room with a Medela Symphony, fitted me for the right size breastshields, and helped me pump for the first time. I was extra blessed with a great supply - that first pump I got about 20 mL of colostrum, and it only went up from there. Nowadays I can usually pump at least 8 oz of milk in a session if I go 6-8 hours between pumps, and 3-4 oz if I go 3-4 hours between pumps.
DS was in the NICU for 5 weeks, and throughout that time got nothing other than breastmilk (except the IV fluids and fat he got the first few days of life when he couldn't eat by mouth). There was a brief consideration of fortifying my breastmilk when he seemed to be gaining weight slowly, but we decided to focus on giving him hindmilk (I would separate the foremilk out at the beginning of the pump) and he was released from the NICU weighing over 5 pounds.
I was able to start non-nutritive breastfeeding early on, where I held him to my breast for him to be able to lick and nibble a little, and he did well with that. Once he was able to start eating by mouth, I was able to start nutritive breastfeeding, and he did very well with that also. We did have to use a nipple shield, but he would nurse for extended periods of time.
He has now been home for just over 3 weeks. He is still doing great gaining weight (was 6 pounds 2 ounces at his weight check last Friday, which was a 15 ounce gain in 11 days). He is so good at switching between the bottle and breast, and eats great either way. He has been able to latch on without the nipple shield a few times, though it is definitely not happening when he is hungry.
I have to confess that I tend to default to bottle feeding him rather than breast feeding him because I know how much he is getting so I know it will help him gain weight, and I know that he will be OK not to eat for the next 3-4 hours if he takes a bottle (whereas he wants to eat every 1.5-2 hours with the breast). I am somewhat scared to bedshare, and we haven't been able to successfully nurse that way anyway, so DH and I are each getting up once a night to give him a bottle.
I want to transition to exclusively breastfeeding him, but I am kind of scared to do it, especially for the overnights. Does anyone have any supportive input or helpful tips for me? I keep thinking about going to a local LLL meeting but I am not really supposed to have him around other people because of his immature lungs. His due date is Tuesday!