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Breast Feeding

Premmies

01/06/2005

Question:

i also have a premie of only 35 week gestation who only know bottle feeding and im trying to breastfeed her should i try the breast at every feeding until she lacthes on?

Answer:

Thank you for your question. It is wonderful that you want to breastfeed your baby. I am assuming from your question that your baby is home and that she got used to bottles in the hospital. I will give you some suggestions but first I want to suggest that you find a lactation consultant (LC) to help you--if you don't know how to do this you can call the hospital where your baby was born and they can tell you how to find an LC. Your baby certainly can breastfeed but at 35 weeks' gestation at birth it will take her a little longer to establish full breastfeeding and having someone to call for advice will be very helpful to you.

I do suggest that you start each feeding with breastfeeding--being hungry is what will help your baby to latch on and to continue to suck until your milk "lets down". You can help this happen sooner by massaging your breast before you begin feeding until you see a few drops of milk. You could also pump for a few minutes before feeding to start your milk flow--an LC can show you how to do both of these. Make sure that you are comfortable and that you are supporting your baby' head and shoulders and have her "belly to belly" with you so she doesn't have to turn her head which is very tiring to small infants. The other thing you can do to know if your baby is getting enough milk is called test-weighing and there is a special scale made just for this purpose. You weigh the baby before and after feeding and the difference in weight in grams is equal to the amount of milk your baby took--so if she is 10 grams heavier after feeding she took 10 milliliters or a third of an ounce and you would know that she needs more milk which you could then give to her by bottle. Your health care provider can tell you how much milk she should be taking in a day and the LC can help you with the scale. It is common for small infants to need this kind of supplementation until they reach their due date and it is important to know how much milk the baby is getting as small infants don't always wake up and cry often enough. She should be fed at least 8 times a day and more often is very common. My final suggestion concerns the kind of bottle and nipple you are using. Be careful not to put the nipple in your infant's mouth but rather stroke the side of her lips with it so she opens her mouth widely, as she has to do when breastfeeding. Then let her take it into her mouth. Also, use a nipple that doesn't have a fast flow rate--this will encourage her to suck more strongly and help with breastfeeding.

This may seem like a lot to do but with the help of an LC it is very likely you and your baby will be successful.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Donna   Dowling, PhD,RN Donna Dowling, PhD,RN
Associate Professor of Nursing
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University