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Thread: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    My wife and I are first time parents of a 5 week premature boy. He was in the NICU for 10 days with respiratory distress. He was bottle fed with formula until my wife started pumping (every 3 hours). Then they used her breastmilk whenever they had it. Within a few days (3-4) they were using almost exclusively breastmilk. At that point, he was on a 3 hour feeding schedule.

    The last few days before he went home he was breastfeeding for his entire feeding. Typically 20-30 minutes per session (3-4 of the 8 sessions per day... the rest was bottle fed breastmilk from my wifes pumping). Just before he went home, they moved him from 3 hour feeding schedule to "on demand" schedule (with no more than 4 hours between feedings). He typically "demanded" it closer to 3 hours than 4, but never less than 3 hours.

    When we took our son home, we imediately switched to full-time nursing. He would take the breast for 20+ minutes every 3 hours that day (noon, 3, 6, 9, midnight).

    Then from midnight to 8 am, he started feeding about every 30 minutes for about 5-10 minutes each time. That was an exhausting night!

    The next morning/afternoon, he seemed to return to a 1-3 hour sleeping/feeding demand schedule and nursed about 15-20 minutes each time. That second night, he slept about 2 hours between feedings and nursed about 15 minutes.

    His third day was much like the first two... very normal (sleeping about 2 hours between feedings). The third night was back to waking up every 40 minutes and nursing about 5-10 minutes.

    Some (many) of the nursings are hard to accomplish even what seemingly little we are getting from him because he falls asleep after about 5 minutes of nursing. So we try all the standard tricks (rubbing his cheeks, changing his diaper, etc). It takes about 30 minutes to get 10 minutes of feeding in.

    I'm expecting another fussy night tonight.

    We bought a scale to make sure that he's gaining weight. He's from 6.16 pounds to 6.25 pounds to 6.40 pounds with each weighing. And while about 1 in 3 diapers has poop, it seems to be a smaller amount than at the hospital.

    The fussy nights are very, very stressful. Thankfully my wife has 6 weeks leave to get things worked out, but she only has 4 weeks left at this point. I'm hoping we are able to get him at least sleeping in longer blocks at night (every 3 hours would be a blessing at this point) during this time.

    My questions are as follows:

    Should we be worried? Is any of this related to the hard transition we made from bottle feeding 5 of 8 feedings a day in the NICU to nursing all his feedings at home? What should we do to get him back up to his previous levels?

    Thanks for any and all help and feedback and have a fantastic Christmas tomorrow to everyone who celebrates it!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    COUGARTOWN Baby! From here on in!

    Default Re: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    HI! Congratualtions on your LO and on your success at getting him back to breast so quickly!
    You have absolutely nothing to worry about Babies are genereally nocturnal when they get here. As they are used to being lulled to sleep all day by mamas movement while in the womb and then when we stop moving to sleep at night that is usually their "awake" time. Also the not wanting to come off the breast is called "cluster feeding" and generally it occurs when the baby is going through a growth spurt and needs to up his mothers supply by demanding MORE. This is very common. Nights are rough with newborns. The best advice I can give you is to encourage your wife to sleep when your baby sleeps during the day. Even if it means NOT cooking, NOT cleaning. During the 1st 6-8weeks most of us set up a "Nursing Island" where we sit either in bed or on the couch with everything we need so as not to have to get up. The remotes, the phone if she feels like answering it, a huge glass of water and snacks. You get up to pee, get more food and change diapers. THAT'S IT. That is really all she should be worrying about.
    Also my son's "Cluster feeding" sessions were generally between Midnight and 5am so we would make a point for me to take one last two hour nap. After dinner from 10-midnight I'd sleep. Because really, my husband had to work and couldn't really help me with the breastfeeding. So I'd take that last nap of the day and just expect to be up. And then the next day when he would finally sleep, SLEEP WITH HIM. I know it's hard to believe, but if she doesn't start resting when the baby does it gets WORSE. The house work will wait. Bring home take out. It's such a short period of time in the baby's life.. Also know that at some point she will master side lye nursing which will make everthing around rsting while feeding soo much easier. But I imagine the baby is too small for that just yet.
    For now just encourage her to sleep when the baby does during the day and NOT to worry about anything but establishing their nursing relationship. These 1st weeks are so very crucial! Good Luck! HTH! Have a great holiday!

    Way too lazy for formula

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    Totally normal. My newborn tends to do the same thing at night. Wakes up to nurse, only to fall back asleep within a few minutes of nursing. It won't be like this forever. One thing our doctor suggested was lots of skin-to-skin contact. Right now, I sleep with my son (with just his diaper) on my chest. He seems to sleep better/longer. He still gets up frequently to nurse, but not as much as if he's sleeping in his snuggle nest. Besides, when its daytime, there is much more activity/sounds/etc going on that seems to distract them. At night, its all quiet...so they're not as distracted.

    And, she should be sleeping when he sleeps. I take several naps a day. They're life savers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    Congrats on the new baby! Babies are wonderful and exhausting, and Dads are great helps!

    Your baby is totally normal. My twins were 35 weekers and they nursed all of the for about 5 weeks (where they would be at term). Please remember that your baby is pre-term and not to expect newborn behavior until 40 weeks.

    A couple of suggestions: have your wife learn to nurse lying down. This will allow her to learn to sleep thru the nursing session and will be a huge help when she returns to work.

    Skin to skin will help too. Many babes like sleeping on dad's chest and will sleep longer. The smell of mom often cues baby to nurse more. But, everytime baby wants to nurse, it is important to nurse. She is still building a milk supply and baby knows what he is doing

    Bottom line - normal baby who is building supply = frequent short nursing

    Keep us posted.

    Mom to - 6 yrs, 4 yrs, and twins 3 years

    Check out my Work at Home Job Here

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    i'm a mom of preemie twins (exclusively breastfed for 4 months so far) and I had about 6 weeks of those fussy nights! at times i thougt we wouldn't make it. but you got great advise from the previous replies. just follow it!

    as soon as my bigger twin hit 11 pounds the fussy nights stopped and he began to sleep longer between feedings. ditto for my smaller twin! they now sleep 4 to 6 hours between feedings at night

    just help her survive during this time. as long as the baby is gaining and the poop and pee frequency is within normal limits you know that the baby is simply cluster feeding due to a growth spurt and to help mom's milk supply increase enough to keep him growing!

    one thought: if possible see about getting her a bit more time off ...like through week 12, so that baby and mom will have a firmly established feeding schedule and a breast milk supply that can survive the separation and pumping.

    best of luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Preemie: Nursing 15 times a day for about 10-15 minutes each

    It sounds like your baby is experiencing a growth spurt! Frequent growth spurts, fussy evenings, and cluster feedings are all very normal parts of the newborn stage. As long as your baby continues to produce plenty of wet and dirty diapers, you can assure that he is getting enough!

    As for your wife needing sleep, could she nap when baby naps? Perhaps support her as she learns to nurse lying down? It's amazing how much rest you can get by just relaxing and dozing while lying down.

    Here are some helpful resources:

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