Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Express ...

Heads : E X P R E S S
This word evokes many memories ... of course for me ... to do with breastfeeding my twin sons.

My twins were born a month premature and most babies under 36 weeks don't have a good sucking reflex.

Though many can start to breastfeed or bottle feed they also have nasogastric tubes (NGT) because sucking exhausts them easily.

So they space the NG tube feeds with a breast or bottle feed initially. I started hand expressing colostrum the same day - like 1-2 mls. Yes mls.

It was a few days before I my milk came in ... then I spent the next three weeks hooked up this pump 5- 6 times a day for 20-30
mins or more each session. I was so determined to breast feed.

S was having a bottle of expressed breast milk (EBM) about every 9 hrs and two tube feeds in between.He was very reluctant to suck the teat.

The midwives in the Nursery were not that keen for me to breastfeed, it seemed, and I had to fight to let him suck at the nipple at all while he was having a tube feed. He just wasn't interested in the teat/bottle. They kept saying he wouldn't suck. They said not to "tire him out".

J - took to the bottle with expressed breast milk very well and being so little at 2
kgs with a tiny mouth he was having problems attaching. *sigh* So we didn't try him as much but he was up to having a bottle of EBM every six hours, days before his brother, who 800gm heavier.

We were only in the nursery for them to gain weight and feed ...

Finally at19 days old they let us go home. J - was only having bottle feeds. S only got his
NG tube out the day before we left. He was having breastfeeds with bottle feed top up and bottle feeds overnight when I wasn't there. He wasn't keen on top ups ... wasn't hungry obviously.

We left hospital with a long list of
do's and don'ts. The main one was to overfeed and force top ups on S offer S extra top up feeds after a breastfeed and feed both at least every 3 -4 hrs.

S never had another bottle . Ever !

I knew my mother's
intuition was he didn't want the top up and I knew he was p o o ping and p e e ing enough plus gaining weight. It wasn't that I didn't have the supply.

I was pumping milk for J round the clock. I knew that while I could I wanted to give them both
breast milk.

I felt guilty I wasn't able to get J to attach to the n i p p l e. I saw a lactation consultant but we had no luck. We tried shields - no luck. He just screamed and arched his back. He had a touch of reflux too so we added thickener
Karicare .I knew it was upsetting him to push him any more. I let it go. I tried every him so often if he nuzzled me.

Having a twin still
breastfeeding meant I was able to maintain a good supply for both. I know people expressing for just one baby have a lot of difficulty maintaining supply. A baby sucking is the best method for making milk.

So for the next 4-5 months I expressed - sometimes 5-6 times a day. Sometimes with the tandem collection kit, sometimes whilst breastfeeding S on one side and sometimes while bottle feeding J . Sometimes, I did all at once. I juggled everything with the help of my dear husband. He enjoyed participating in feeding J his bottle too.

Then I mastered three times day expressing.I wish I had known about the pumping bra though ... I spilt a few precious bottles juggling my books or keyboard and holding bottles/pump kits.

One day J was screaming for his milk ...I had to warm the bottle from the fridge. I had just set up to express and thought I would try him.

He was also in a
Pavlik harness for his hips (from 4-6 months) to make matters more complicated in trying to position him the right way to breastfeed.

But surprising he attached and I could feel him feeding, hungrily, properly for the first time. He did it again later .Over the next few days he was down to one
-two EMB bottles at night ( so I could sleep LOL and Daddy could still help)

I continued to express one feed because he had been diagnosed also with the kidney VUR reflux and I wanted to make sure he was getting a good drink to flush his kidneys out. Then one day at about 7 -8 months I stopped expressing.

S & J continue to breastfeed at 21 months.

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