I'm new here and this is my first post, but I'm hoping someone can help me. I am also contacting local breastfeeding "experts" and looking up local LLL contacts, in addition to posting here.
I am having some breastfeeding challenges with my son. He is my first baby and was born prematurely (no known cause for this, my water broke and I went into labor, the doctors tried everything to stop it but it didn't work). He was born at 31 weeks, 2 days on January 2, 2007 and his name is Mario. Mario is currently 8 weeks old, real age, or 39 weeks, 3 days gestational age (due date was March 4). He was in the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital for just shy of 5 weeks and came home on February 4. During his time in the NICU he only received breastmilk, which I have been pumping since he was born, and also he had fortifiers added to it, ending up at 24 calorie. In the NICU he was fed by gavage feeding initially, then breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I'm sure you are familiar with the routine.
Currently, he receives breastmilk, fortified to 24 calorie with Enfamil Enfasure, by bottle for half of his feedings and we are trying to breastfeed for the other half. His weight gain has been great (birth weight was 3 lbs, 14.6 oz and weight as of yesterday was 7 lbs 3 oz), plenty of wet and dirty diapers, etc. The goal is to get to the point where we can breastfeed all the time, only offering the bottle when we need to (such as if I need to go out and dad needs to feed the baby, when I go back to work in May, etc).
My problem is that he is having troubles with the breastfeeding and is showing a strong preference to the bottle (currently using Playtex VentAire bottles with Natural Latch nipples). I don't know if we have gone backward in terms of breastfeeding, or if I just was either ignorant or unaware of problems up until now. It seemed that he did so well in the beginning, but I don't know if he was appearing satisfied because he fell alseep right after or what. But, now, I am having problems getting him to latch on (he won't latch properly, will be manic and turn his head from side to side, cry, flail his arms, etc.), won't stay latched on, won't suck consistently, falls asleep at the breast or gets hysterical and won't suck, etc. I have tried several positions (cradle, football, side-lying), with and without the nipple shield, etc. I have tried swaddled and unswaddled (swaddled he gets cozy and falls alseep, unswaddled he can get manic and flail), different times of day and night, pumping for a few minutes before to encourage let-down, etc. Last night I had my husband get the Medela Supplemental Nurser and we are trying that so that he gets that immediate gratification when he sucks on the breast. I am still having problems getting him to latch and stay latched and suck in a good pattern. I know my supply is good because I pump regularly and get a good volume. We have a freezer full of pumped milk and I am way ahead of him in terms of the supply and demand ratio.
I am at the point of complete frustration here. I really want to be able to breastfeed him and have talked with people over the phone, read books, done online research, etc, but feel like I'm helpless and at a dead end. I am very willing to do whatever it takes to make this work, but don't know what that is at this point.
Are there any suggestions you can offer?
Thank you in advance for your help.