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Thread: Transitioning from Finger Feeding to Breastfeeding

  1. #1

    Default Transitioning from Finger Feeding to Breastfeeding

    My baby was born 5 weeks early weighing 4 lbs 10 ounces. She went down to 4 lbs 4 ounces. She is now 5 weeks old now and over 6 lbs.We tried breastfeeding from the start, but she would not latch on or suck. So, I have been pumping since she was born and we have been using a tube and our fingers to feed her. We try breastfeeding every time we go to feed. Sometimes she latches on and sucks for a little while. Some times she refuses to latch on.

    We have had a handful of good breastfeeding sessions. I very much would like to transition to primarily breastfeeding rather than using the tube feeding most of the time. We have been to a lactation consultant who has suggested a variety of tube feeding options. She suggests that once our baby weights 7 to 8 lbs, it will be easier for her to breastfeed. I am worried that she will become too accustomed (if she hasn't already) to finger feeding that we will never make the transition to breastfeeding. Does anyone have any experience/suggestions with making the transition? We have tried the SNS system, but the milk comes out too quickly for our baby and just ends up all over the both of us.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Transitioning from Finger Feeding to Breastfeeding

    I am not familiar with research that suggests premature babies find it easier to nurse after attaining some particular weight. I am not saying this is not true, just that I have never heard if it. In general I would agree that it makes sense to nurse baby as much as you are able to, and supplement as needed. If you have had a handful of "good" breastfeeding sessions, that sounds like a solid base from which to start building on now, rather than waiting.

    I had two children born via C-section at 37 weeks, both a little less than 7 pounds. We definitely had breastfeeding challenges especially with my oldest child, and they both lost a bit of weight at first, but they both were able to latch and nurse from day one and never needed supplements. I did use a nipple shield the first several weeks with my oldest. Is that something your LC has discussed with you?

    I think that as long as you have to supplement, a lactation aid is your best bet. It does not have to be for every feeding if that is too frustrating. It is my understanding there are ways to tweak the sns to reduce that flow, or you can try a homemade lactation aid if you do not want to buy a LactAid in the hope that would work better than the sns.

    Most important of all is keeping your milk production in good shape with regular pumping and also, holding baby lots, skin to skin when possible, not only for the many benefits of skin to skin but also to keep baby associating your body with all things good.

    You may have already seen these but jic, are some articles and a video on using lactation aids that may help. Also, a video on finger feeding using that to encourage baby to latch and nurse.

    http://cwgenna.com/smartnothard.html and http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...agename=doc-LA lactation aid video: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...me=vid-lactaid

    finger feed to latch: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...ame=vid-notyet

    Nipple shield info: http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/nb-...s/wean-shield/

    It sounds like you have done an amazing job. It sounds like baby is gaining well and 5 weeks of finger feeding is certainly an achievement! I hope you are able to start turning that corner to more nursing and less supplementing (which will also mean less pumping!) soon.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Transitioning from Finger Feeding to Breastfeeding

    Thank you so much for your reply, helpful links, and encouragement. We have not discussed using a nipple shield. I wonder if this would help. She is very good about "latching on" to the finger. She opens her mouth wide and swallows it up. I can't really get her to regularly do this with my nipple. Most of the time she just sits there. Sometimes she is very fussy and will pull off and on. Sometimes (very, very rarely) she appear to be latched on and will suck a little.

    I tried the Medela SNS again this morning. I think because she does not latch well, the milk just spills everywhere. I wonder if the LactAid is different enough to warrant trying it. I will read some reviews about the two systems.

    I have been pumping regularly. We will increase our skin to skin time to see if that will help with her willingness to latch.

    I am frustrated that we have been doing so much finger feeding. I feel like she is too accustomed to the finger feeding already. When I went to the LC I wanted help with positioning and latching. Instead, I was told she has a disorganized and weak suck, so we needed to work on exercises with her and use the finger feeding devices. My schedule is trying breastfeeding, then finger feeding, and then pumping. I will also try breastfeeding after she has had some food from the finger feeding. This is when we have had most success. I guess I need to figure out when she has had enough to get her ready to try breastfeeding. We have tried this as well though. I don't think I have the timing right yet.

    Thanks again for your suggestions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Transitioning from Finger Feeding to Breastfeeding

    I think finger feeding makes sense as a suck training method. What is hard is knowing when/becoming comfortable with taking the training wheels off, so to speak. The breast is not really like a finger, so the transition is going to be a bit of a leap. That's ok.

    What the nipple shield does best is provide a firm protrusion for baby to latch on to. For example when we used one, I was post C-section (on lots of meds and had bad edema due to massive IV fluid load, and engorged.) All of these things softened and flattened the nipple and baby had nothing to latch onto (this is sometimes called flat nipples although that is usually not entirely accurate.) So if in your case, if baby is latching well onto a finger, which is obviously a very firm protrusion, then maybe a nipple shield makes sense as a transitional tool. I do not want to oversell shields, there are definitely drawbacks- but if they got your baby nursing at the breast, I do think that would be a large step in the right direction.

    Of course there are also latch techniques, known as breast shaping and/or the breast sandwich technique where mom makes the nipple protrude more firmly for baby without using a shield.

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