When I was pregnant, I planned to breastfeed my baby. This was very important to me, because of all of the health benefits both for baby and mom. However, I received a sort of a curve ball when Hannah was born six weeks early. Breastfeeding is even more important for preemies, because of the special properties of their mom’s milk. Unfortunately, it’s also harder for preemies to latch and suck well, with their small mouths.
We were very lucky, because Hannah took a bottle well right away. Some babies her age still need to be tube fed, because they don’t suck well, but she never had that problem. This is particularly important, because they won’t send babies home until they’re taking all of their food from breast or bottle.
Unfortunately, Hannah wouldn’t take the breast. To give her my milk, I had to pump eight times a day, every three hours. It was very hard to care for a baby, clean the pump parts, and eat and sleep myself. It was also discouraging, because I could only ever get enough to feed her about half with my milk, so she still got a lot of formula.
When she was 8 days old, we tried a nipple shield at the midwife’s suggestion. A nipple shield looks like this:
This was a real miracle, because it allowed Hannah to breastfeed, and I could stop the pumping. However, as she got older, it became apparent that Hannah preferred the feel of silicone to the real thing. No wonder, because she always got her food that way. Sometimes she would nurse for a couple of minutes without the nipple shield, but never consistently.
This weekend, I decided that enough was enough. I washed the nipple shields, and Jon hid them. We had 2 1/2 hours where Hannah wouldn’t take the breast, but she finally did it. She nursed without the shield. This was on Sunday, and since Monday things have been going really well. I’m so proud of her, and glad to finally be rid of appliances that I have to wash and sterilize when I want to feed my baby. Yippee!