I hope I'm posting this in the right spot, so here we go. Forgive me for this being long, but I'm trying to spot where the problem is in the details.
My little one was born five weeks early and is now six weeks old. This is our second baby, and I didn't think I'd need so much advice the second time around as my first one had a completely normal delivery and nursed just fine. My little one spent 19 days in the NICU. I had to pump a lot to get my supply in so they could feed him while his lungs caught up to the rest of him. Nursing him wasn't really an option for medical reasons. My milk came in well, to the point where I was getting five ounces or more on each breast. Needless to say, I was happy about that at least while waiting for our baby to be cleared to come home.
Once he's home, I was nursing him with the occasional bottle so I can get some sleep at night. As per doctor's instructions, we're adding a bit of premie formula and vitamins to the bottle of breast milk to help with some extra calories and nutrition. He gained some weight by the time he got his first doctor's visit a week later. A week after that he'd gained another five ounces. I'd noticed during this week that his nursing time was steadily increasing, and he'd be super fussy afterwards. We'd end up giving him a two ounce bottle, which he would take in less than ten minutes even after being on me for over twenty and some times as much as forty minutes. On his third trip to the doctor, he hadn't gained any weight or lost it. The pediatrician had us start giving him a formula bottle every other feed to help him get some much needed weight on him.
So three days of adding formula bottles has produced several positive changes. He actually sleeps better quality wise. He's more awake and active (he wasn't kicking as much before we noticed). He's having bowel movements all the time (before it was only one every three days), and generally just seems to be a happier baby. In order to pad up the breast milk with calories and track how much he's eating, I'm trying to go back to pumping so he can take a bottle. That's when I discovered that I'm barely making three ounces on both whereas I was making over ten a month before. This has just devastated me emotionally.
It still doesn't explain how he can latch on, nurse for twenty minutes or more, and then take a three to four ounce bottle. Is it possible that the baby is just not sucking hard enough to get the milk? He wants to nurse, but it doesn't seem to be getting him a proper meal. I'm trying to get my supply back up to where it was. He's going back to the pediatrician on Tuesday to check his weight progress.
I would very much appreciate any advice on what to do. My first child grew like a champ while nursing, and I'm worried sick for my second baby. The feelings of failure make it hard to make a sensible decision. I thank you very much in advance!