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Thread: Leaving NICU - Transitioning to BF

  1. #1

    Default Leaving NICU - Transitioning to BF

    HI - we are going to be leaving the NICU in the next week most likely. My son was born at 34 weeks and will be about 38 weeks when we leave. I've been pumping at least 8 times a day and am getting 20-30 ml each session - not enought to feed him yet. I'm working on increasing my supply. He has been able to try to breastfeed once a day. We will up that to twice a day when we go home. He gets worn out pretty easily.

    I'm wondering if there is hope to breastfeed him exclusively, or am I going to have to breastfeed, bottle feed AND pump to make this work? It is exhausting doing it all.

    Any ideas on how to increase my the amount I breastfeed so that I can reduce the amount I have to pump over the long run?

    Any hope?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Leaving NICU - Transitioning to BF

    Congrats on getting to take your baby home!

    And yes, you can ABSOLUTELY breastfeed exclusively. Do you do kangaroo care at all? if you don't already, start with this, it is invaluable. If you do, keep it up!

    What I did was kangaroo care, wearing him next to me (often with no shirt on...either one of us) and putting him to breast every single try. I took baths and showers with him..just basically had him on my chest 24/7. And I pumped pumped pumped like a bazillion times a day.

    What kind of bottle is he feeding on now? It might take some work to transition from a fast flow bottle like they like to give them in the NICU, so if your LO is on a bottle with a fast flow, go back to the slowest one you can find. Having him learn to work for the milk will help with exclusive breastfeeding.

    Good luck mama! You can do this!
    I'm Hillary
    Wife to Gualberto
    Mom to Nolan
    Born at 32 weeks-3lbs/10oz
    Our precious early angel

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Leaving NICU - Transitioning to BF

    Hi there!

    Like nolies.mama said it is totally possible to exclusively breastfeed your baby. My son was born at 29.6 weeks and was in the NICU for almost 2 months. While there he didn't breastfeed much at all - maybe a few times before coming home, but only 1 was a full feeding. Within 2 months of coming home, he was breastfeeding all feedings and no more top-ups with bottles.

    When he came home I wore him a ton in a Moby Wrap - often times without my shirt on and he would be in just a diaper. I also took baths with him. I pumped every few hours. At first I only tried to nurse him a few times a day because the doctors we were working with all had me so scared that he would get too tired out and start loosing weight. But I worked with board certified lactation consultants who totally boosted my confidence in nursing him as we met and did weight checks before and after feedings. I highly suggest working with them after your son is discharged. I increased the amount of times a day we'd try to nurse before bottle feeding over time. Once I was confident that he actually could nurse and he was gaining weight I started eliminating bottles - even if he didn't nurse for a long time. I would still pump the side he nursed off of just to keep up my supply. Then as soon as I thought he wanted to nurse again (or if it had been 2 hours) I nursed him on the other side. My theory was that if I didn't top him off with a bottle, but allowed him to nurse often, he would get better at nursing and realize this was where his feedings would be. I rented a baby scale from a local pharmacy and did before and after feeding weights and kept track of them for his pediatricans as they never wanted me to stop offering him a bottle after nursing. Once we all saw he was still gaining weight like this (and he actually gained better this way) I dropped all bottles. Hope this makes sense. I'm not saying you should do exactly the same thing - every situation is different. Just sharing my experience.

    So, all that to say, it can be done. Here's a link for you. Feel free to ask any other questions you might have!

    Mommy to:

    Emmalynn Marie
    Born at 37 weeks on 12/22/06
    5lbs 1oz 19 1/2in

    Owen Charles
    Born at 29 wks 6 days on 01/17/09
    2lbs 14oz 15in
    In NICU for 2 months

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: Leaving NICU - Transitioning to BF

    It is completely possible. My pediatrician, who was also my lactation consultant, told me to wait until my due date to try aggressively and it was amazing how that was true. I still put my daughter to my breast daily - along with all the kangaroo care - but once we got to 40 weeks it was as if we turned a corner. Your baby will get it, but it takes dedication, patience and determination.
    If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. - Katharine Hepburn

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