My daughter was born at 27 weeks, and after 3 months in the hospital we finally brought her home a little over 3 weeks ago. We started breastfeeding when she was 33 weeks old in which I was able to breastfeed her once a day (I am a student and am now on summer break). We did start right away with a nipple shield. As my daughter began eating more, my production wasn't growing as much with her. When I exclusively pumped right before we brought her home, I would produce roughly 300-350 milliliters and now her goal is to consume somewhere between 480-720 mililiters. It is a challenge to know how much I pump now because I have the breastfeeding thrown in the mix as well.
I'm having several problems now that she is home and I have been working towards exclusively breastfeeding for the summer. The first issue is that my milk supply is still less than she needs to consume. I have done the 8 pumpings per day, and power pumping. It seems like each session takes forever! I usually have to pump for 40 minutes each time and I still don't feel like I get everything out. I don't believe my suction is too low. I set it to just a step below there is any kind of pain. I have had a hospital grade pump for the first 3 months but didn't notice that much of a difference to justify the rental. I am using a medela in style. I also try to express after each session which I could sit there for another 20 minutes trying to drain everything. Again, it doesn't feel like I quite get everything out. Its exhausting and then I get sore if I do too much!
The other problem is when I can get her to breastfeed, she does not completely drain each breast even if she eats for an hour. She also does not want to breastfeed more than 4 or 5 times per day, and each session usually lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes. She prefers a bottle as I think it is easier and she can have her fill more quickly.
We are also still using a nipple shield. I try to get her to breastfeed without the shield each time. Whenever I don't use the shield, she continues to root around like she is looking for a larger nipple like what would be used on a bottle or the shield. I have tried to express milk and have also used a syringe with expressed milk while trying to breastfeed without a shield. She just keeps her mouth open and won't latch in these instances and gets fussy quickly! It is quite frustrating because when I breastfeed, I still have to supplement with a bottle afterwards as she is still hungry but won't breastfeed anymore, and then I have to pump. The whole process can be anywhere from an hour to two hours. Since my supply is less we also have to supplement with formula. It seems like a never ending event!
I feel like the most important thing is to get her to drain the breast each time she feeds and I don't understand why she is not getting enough milk when she breastfeeds. It seems like she is old enough. Her adjusted age would be 3 weeks 5 days. And we have been breastfeeding for about 10 weeks.
I would also like to breastfeed without a shield. I hope my supply will increase if she is able to drain each breast without a nipple shield. I can tell she gets frustrated and I'm not sure why she is not able to get enough milk each time we breastfeed. This feels like a never ending battle for almost 4 months and I am so frustrated. I want this to work but I don't know how much more of this I can take. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!