My baby was born at 32 weeks, and was in the NICU for 2.5 weeks. I started breastfeeding while she was in the NICU (although she never really latched on during that time), and pumped milk for her to be fed (first through a feeding tube, then by bottle) from day 1.
Now that I have her home (she has been home for 2 weeks) I am trying to get her to breastfeed exclusively BUT am having some major problems. The LC and my pediatrician agree that I should breastfeed at every feeding, and offer her a supplemental bottle (except for 6 hours per day, when I should not supplement her - and obviously, this time period is to increase, until she is exclusively breastfeeding). The breastmilk she has from a bottle is enriched with 1 tsp of enfacare per 4oz, for extra calories.
My problems right now are:
1) Although she will latch on properly and feeds (I can see pools of milk in her mouth when she moves, and she swallows and burps), she will only latch on sometimes. Other times, she gets very fussy and agitated, and simply clamps down on my nipple (which has now made my nipples very painful, with white centers) - and even though she is wide awake, and is trying to feed, we can go for over an hour without her latching on or feeding. At that point I give up (as I'm exhausted and in agony, and she is screaming) and give her a full feeding from a bottle.
2) For most feedings, once I get her latched on, she will feed - even if it's just for a few minutes. Once she stops all signs of interest in breastfeeding and is starting to fall asleep, I give her the 1oz bottle supplement. My question is, for the times when she won't latch on at all (when she falls asleep etc) how long should I let her go before I give her a bottle? Generally, if she falls asleep before or during a breastfeeding session, I will lay her in her crib - if she hasn't had her supplemental bottle, she will then start to fuss or cry almost immediately and will not settle.
I am reluctant to give up breastfeeding attempts, as I can see she is making some progress, and I have a great milk supply (from 5 weeks of pumping every 3-4 hours!!) - but I am physically and mentally exhausted. Right now, when I give her bottles my husband is a great help, and feeds her while I pump, but the breastfeeding sessions (especially those in the middle of the night) usually leave us with a screaming baby, and an almost as hysterical Momma.
Any words of wisdom or support would be greatly appreciated.