premie hasn't latched on. what can i do?

ALISHA - posted on 07/23/2011 ( 32 moms have responded )

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I have a premie that was born @ 34 weeks. She is currently 38 weeks. What tips do you have to help her nurse? My milk supply isn't an issue.

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Tessa - posted on 07/31/2011

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My preemie was born at 34 weeks as well and was given milk that I pumped while in the NICU through a bottle. This made latching a real issue for us. Finally a lactation consultant has me try using a nipple shield. It is just a silicone overlay that acts more like a bottle nipple over your breast. The idea is is have them latch onto the shield and once let down begins try to remove the shield and the baby will latch. Eventually they are supposed to adjust to just latching to your breast naturally. Unfortunately, I could never get him to latch without the shield and I ended up nursing him for the first 6 months using the shield every time. It is worth looking into though. Good Luck!

Angel - posted on 10/27/2011

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Try nipple shields, i use them and they work great for my son for latching.

Ania - posted on 08/23/2011

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Contact experienced lactation consultant it is really important. I can't give you advice because I don't know anything about preemies and their challenges plus some babies just latch others don't, everyone is different LC has a great knowledge and knows how to help and also to help you relax and that is very important

Meaghan - posted on 08/01/2011

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I had a 35 weeker. It was a rough start, especially because the doctors and nurses didn't really seem to understand breastfeeding.
I found LLL incredibly helpful. I also worked with several LCs that helped. Progress was slow until her due date, then it started to get better. Around 6 weeks adjusted we weren't even thinking about problems anymore. It had become easy and automatic and weight gain actually got better for us once we were able to cut formula supplementation (which might not be true for everyone).

Here is what I did:
1. We practiced latching on the bottles. I happened to like breastflow. They were a pain to clean, but easy to practice with.
2. We used an SNS.
3. Lots of kangaroo care and nursing on demand.
4. Mirroring. I would open my mouth wide and then she would imitate. Then I would praise and latch her on.
5. Experimented with different positions to see if one was better for latching.

Also, I found this site helpful: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.p...
It made it easier to see what "good" nursing looked like.

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Teresa - posted on 08/22/2011

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Yeah for everything finally working out! It was the same for my twins born at 34 weeks. Just when I was about to give up and go to formula, they figured it out!

[deleted account]

Well, whatever it is, that's so awesome! Yay for breastfed babies and mommies who are persistent!! :)

ALISHA - posted on 08/13/2011

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@trina I am not sure if it was the fact that she latched on right after her due date or the fact that during I recent hospital visit she didn't eat for about 16 hrs & was given a pacifier. Once she was able to eat I tried to breast feed & it worked.

ALISHA - posted on 08/13/2011

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She is totally on the breast now. Occasionally i'll express & bottle feed.

Prior to her latching I did try the nipple shield. She would suck a lil & then stop.

Kirsten - posted on 08/13/2011

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have u tried a nipple shield ask ur nurse for one my now one year old did the same thing had her two and a half months early but she took to it

Lisa - posted on 08/10/2011

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I'd try expressing a bit by hand just to soften up the nipple and make it easier for the baby to latch. Also rub the nipple across the baby's mouth until she opens big and wide, then pop it in. I found that if a baby can't latch correctly the use of a pacifier works wonders. Once they get that plastic thing in there they realize where the nipple is supposed to sit in their mouth, so then when they latch they do it right. But don't keep using the pacifier. also check your diet, and make sure anything that would affect your milk in a bad way is out--such as onions and garlic, coffee, chocolate, broccoli. Those all cause gas and make your milk smell bad. Once your baby starts nursing and is a few months old, you can add it slowly back in and let her get used to it. I drink a cup of coffee every day now and my son doesn't even notice--course he is 19 months, but when he was new, coffee kept him awake for hours!! and then he'd be pooping crazy and wanting to non-stop nurse cuz of a tummy ache. So yeah, I learned the hard way. I hope you don't have to. Good luck on your nursing, don't stop. Its the best thing you can do for your baby!!

Ann Marie - posted on 08/05/2011

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Oh, poor thing - you and her! Is she going to be OK?

Hopefully you'll get past this difficult feeding phase quickly. It's totally exhausting. I even had a hard time bonding with my preemie until she was about 6 weeks old - probably from pure exhaustion!

ALISHA - posted on 08/04/2011

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Hey ladies! Fortunately she did latched on on her due date which was august 1. The unfortunately side is she was admitted to the hospital due to a choking/stop breathing episode.

Ann Marie - posted on 08/01/2011

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My first daughter was born at 35 weeks, and she had trouble latching on at first too. Kudos to you for being persistent - I know how frustrating it can be (my second daughter had her own nursing issues too - different story).



Anyway, what we would do (every 2 hours, after we FINALLY got her to wake up a bit) is let her nurse for 5-10 minutes (as long as she was really working), then give her a half-feeding's worth of expressed milk, then burp her, weigh her, change her diaper to wake her up again, then give her 5-10 minutes of nursing time on the other side, and as much milk from the bottle as she wanted after that, and weigh her again. Then she'd usually go back to sleep and I'd pump.



She had a hard time keeping much milk down in the first couple of weeks too. And the jaundice didn't help with her staying awake enough to eat!



A good baby scale (one that measures in ounces, or even tenths of ounces) was a life-saver for us too. The doctors told me how much milk she needed to be drinking each day. I would weigh her right before and after each feeding (without changing her diaper, because that removes weight). Then we could tell exactly how much milk she was getting from nursing. After 2 or 3 weeks of that she was finally getting enough milk from nursing, and we were able to stop giving her the bottles. THAT was a very happy day! We kept weighing her and tracking her diaper "output" for a good month or two, until it was clear that she was gaining weight with no more issues. Putting away the notebook was another happy day.



I would definitely fight for that good latch. Nursing directly is much easier than exclusive pumping, so you're more likely to keep it up. And as you know, preemies in particular need as much breastmilk as you can give them!



My daughters both nursed to 19 months (with my pumping at work after 3 months, and nursing them at home). It's totally worth it!



I almost forgot to mention - my local La Leche League chapter was very helpful. The ladies there are more relaxed than nurses in the hospital, and they're happy to spend some time with you during or after the meeting working on the baby's latch. A lot of them have or had preemies.

Kristi - posted on 08/01/2011

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my little bloke wasn't a premmie but he took 9 weeks to latch on properly, I used nipple shields at first, went to see midwives at clinics and finally turned to the internet in tears after 8 weeks of torture and two bouts of mastitis. For me, it was not understanding that they are not drinking from the nipple but pumping under the aureole to force the milk out, once I got the mechanics, it went easier for me.

Cara - posted on 07/31/2011

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I had the same problem, my boy would not latch so
I brought nipple sheilds, because they are shaped he found it easier to latch, boots and superdrug sell them.

Jen - posted on 07/30/2011

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If you can manage a day or two of staying in bed and just cuddling and nursing, I would try that. A good LC helped us too. Good luck! Remember to be very patient. Some how it took until 40 wks aa for our preemies to nurse well enough to drop bottles. Make sure you nurse at least 1 feeding per day. I always got frustrated with bottles, and just went cold turkey at 40 wks aa. I have a baby scale and weighed before and after each feeding. Best $35 I ever spent for peace of mind while transitioning from EBM to direct nursing. I bought mine on ebay.

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If your babe is in a NICU I would think the nurses should know about the SNS. Hopefully they can help you!

ALISHA - posted on 07/30/2011

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@ Trina I will look into the product you suggested.
@ Christina I've tried it but she doesn't stay on long. I've keep trying.

Christina - posted on 07/30/2011

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Have you tried a nipple guard? I had to use one with my third because we had been on pitosin for three days and she couldn't latch on. It helped a lot.

[deleted account]

Have you tried a Supplemental Nursing System to see if that might help? From what I understand it teaches baby that milk comes from the breast and encourages them to suck at the breast, giving them some expressed milk through a tube taped to your breast until they can latch and get it themselves.



http://www.medela.ca/CDN/breastfeeding/p...

Jessyca - posted on 07/30/2011

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My son was born at 33 wks and didn't learn to latch properly until about 2 months. We were given a nipple shield in the NICU to help him learn and although it allowed him to get all of his milk from nursing it was very hard to wean him from it and led to me getting mastitis because it doesn't allow the breast to drain evenly and efficiently. Once I knew he was getting enough milk and was consistantly gaining weight, I began to wean him from the shield. He screamed and screamed and fought me until he finally just figured it out & like magic wanted nothing to do with the shield. Now he's 13 months and is still quite the booby boy! Have patience... And kudos to you fir keeping up with it! There is no better gift than mothers milk! :) good luck!

Jana - posted on 07/30/2011

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My dd was born at 34 weeks and it was a month and a half before she latched enough to actually nurse but I would just try a fw times a day and then give her pumped milk if she didn't and then one day it was like hey I can do it and she nursed for a long time after that and we never had another problem but I would just say keep trying and one day she will catch on sometimes thier jaws/ sucking reflex is still just weak.

Kim - posted on 07/30/2011

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Hi, my son was 32 wk and they gave him a dummy (pacifier) in the hospital to teach him how to suck, my daughter was 36wk but she wouldnt take a dummy but I went to the community health nurse and she put me in touch with the lactation consultant maybe you can do that to it was really helpful and reasurring to have them check out i was doing it correctly and they can help teach you to get the bub to latched on. By the way even when she was latched on I still thought she wasnt it took us both about 3 months to get into a groove and feel confident with it all. Good luck hang in there it does get easier and faster :0)

Nicole - posted on 07/30/2011

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I had twins born at 34 weeks and it took them until they were almost 3 months old to figure out how to nurse effeciently. The lactation consultant I worked with had me nurse the baby for 5-10 min at each feeding and then follow it up with a bottle of either expressed breast milk or formula. (I had an issue with supply for 2).

Good luck and keep with it! My twins nursed until they were 11 months old.

Karine - posted on 07/30/2011

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My son was also bon at 34 weeks, i was allowed to hold him only at 36 weeks. At the hospital they gave him a pacifier to soothe him. That's how he finally started to suckle a bit and then breastfeeding started slowly and we stopped the pacifier. Good luck.

Anna Marie - posted on 07/24/2011

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Good for you for working towards a latched babe :) lots of skin-to-skin contact. A book though La Leche League called breastfeeding your Premature baby has been helpful to some moms I know. Also be patient with yourself and with her. Every drop of milk you get to her is precious :) good luck!

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