Having a preemie: breastfeeding

When I first saw my baby she had a feeding tube in her mouth and one of my first thoughts was “will I be able to breastfeed my baby?” I had a pretty good experience with my first baby so when thinking of having my second baby I didn’t expect anything different, but now that she arrived early, everything was different.
The nurse that was helping me through all of my questions and concerns told me that I should just start pumping. I didn’t really want to hear that because:
  1. Its time away from my baby.
  2. I don’t know if I will be able to pump enough.
  3. It’s tiring and time consuming.
I wanted the best for my baby (as do all mothers) and in my heart I knew this would help my baby the most, so I pumped. Every 2 hours for 5-7 min. At first it was such a small amount that I didn’t think It would even do anything, but as I brought what I had pumped down to the NICU the nurses were impressed and very encouraging of my efforts.
Then the feeding tube came out!
My milk had not come in yet and she needed to eat. I was so discouraged I wanted to quit, and I almost did. The only thing that kept me going was my need to connect with my baby, so I asked the nurses if I could try actual breastfeeding when I was there.
They told me it probably would not work. Preemie babies have a very hard time sucking and need time to learn that skill unlike most newborn babies where the sucking reflex is better developed. I was determined and told them we could do it!
So even though my milk was not in yet and my baby could not feed the way she needed to, we practised. Over and over and over again. When the nurse would come in with a bottle because I could not feed her I felt like a failure. I am her mother; I want to feed her my self, this is how it’s supposed to be and it’s just not working.
I would go home after a long day of emotional drain with her and just cry. This was supposed to be a happy time. I have a new baby and she is alive, but her struggles were my struggles. At night (every 2 hours) I would pump alone in the dark thinking of my little girl. I was starting to feel like my body was against me. Then I started to feel like the nurses also were against me when I would arrive in the morning to find out they had just fed her a bottle.
I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to do this anymore.
Then it happened! My milk came in, and maybe this is only something a new mother will understand, but I felt like I could do anything now. I felt on top of the world like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
I was able to pump enough for the night while I was away, then I didn’t have to rely on formula to feed my baby. We were still working on the actual breastfeeding, but I felt like it didn’t matter as much anymore.
She surprised us all, in just a few days, when she latched properly and was able to get enough. It was definitely something I took for granted with my first baby. Everyone was so happy.
We were very optimistic that we would be going home soon….
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