I am writing with questions regarding how to GENTLY transition my 6-week old daughter from bottle to breast.
Our low-birth weight baby was born after a long labor and delivery process. Due to complications during and after the delivery she was whisked off to the NICU and got her first bottle feed there, before I could get to her. When I tried to put her to my breast a few hours after birth, she was unable to associate the breast with food - don't know why! She behaves that way to this day, even as she turned 6 weeks today.
From the time we were allowed to start rooming-in in the hospital, we have been trying to feed from the breast. Due to her low birth weight and her refusal to nurse, I have been pumping and feeding her - first through a syringe and now using bottles. She is gaining weight well, and now I'd like for her to start learning to nurse, so she can reap all the benefits of breastfeeding.
To make it a little bit more challenging than it already is, I have inverted nipples in both breasts, although all these days of pumping has helped that situation some, but not a whole lot. The lactation consultant I metwith in the hospital recommended a nipple shield, which I tried using as well.
So, here is the situation: my daughter totally refuses to associate the breast directly with milk, so she doesn't even take the nipple in her mouth, leave alone try to close her mouth around it to latch on. With the nipple shield on, I guess because of its comparable feel to the bottle nipple, she attempts to suckle. This happens every once in a while, not always, and when she suckles she succeeds in getting milk out and swallowing it. But that doesn't last too long - 5 min.s maximum. Then she just becomes too tired to continue, falls asleep and wakes up a few minutes later feeling really hungry and starts crying a lot. At this point I try not to force her to nurse, and give her the bottle. Is this 'giving-in' on my part having a negative effect on establishing nursing?
One of our local LLL leaders suggested I use a syringe or a Foley (sp?) cup to feed her and slowly get her to wean off the bottle. That way, her comfort during feeding can come solely from nursing. In theory it makes total sense, but when I tried to feed her with a syringe today, she cried and refused to swallow any of the milk I put in her mouth and slept for 4 hours without feeding - as if saying, "I'd rather be hungry than feed like this". It just broke my heart to see her like that. I am unable to see her cry and be sad like that, so I don't know if there is a gentler way to help the transition. What should I do when she gets really hungry, and starts crying for her bottle? Have any of you been in this situation? Are there any suggestions you can give me?
I really, really want us to experience this basic method of nourishment and benefit fully from it. We are having trouble. Please help.