Several people have asked about Hannah’s food and breastfeeding. For those who aren’t familiar with NICU transitions, here’s the skinny:
When Hannah was first born she was only given nutrients through the IV…that went on for a few days. As I would bring colostrum down from my room, though, the nurses would swab her mouth with it. Those swabs started coating the stomach lining preparing it to tolerate feedings…since her tummy wasn’t meant to have food in it yet. That went on for a few days and then they slowly started pumping my colostrum and milk through her feeding tube. They started at 3mL every six hours for one day, then went to 3mL every three hours, and then slowly went up from there, upping her volume every one to two days.
The NICU doctor said that usually babies as small as Hannah are really good at either breathing or eating, but they cannot seem to do both right away. :) Hannah’s strength has been eating, for sure, because now we are up to a full ounce every feed. She has had only milk and colostrum from me the entire time. We have been super blessed!!
I pump every three hours and take the milk into the NICU. They then mix it, use it, and store it at the hospital until Hannah comes home. They provide all of the bottles and supplies we need too.
We just started practicing breastfeeding on Saturday, the seventh. Hannah thinks she is big. She wants to eat from me and tries so hard, but her mouth is so tiny and she tires out easily. She’s like a little birdie with her mouth open. We are using a shield to try and help her, but even still, it will take a little while. We also moved her into the regular size hospital pacifier. That will help her practice opening her mouth wider, as well. At least, she is content to practice and hang out with me.
The goal is to have her transitioned to breastfeeding with supplemental bottles from pumping, if necessary, when she leaves the NICU. Once she reaches four pounds we will be more diligent in the transitioning to the breast. She’ll need to prove she can maintain her weight off of the feeding tube before the doctors will consider sending her home.
So we are looking at another three to five weeks. It all depends on her maintenance of weight and breathing ability. Happy three weeks today, Miss Hannah!!