July 19

A Look Back On My Breastfeeding Journey

Last July 4, this photo of my little preemie going home after his 111-day stay in Neonatal-ICU (NICU) appeared in my Facebook memory,

Memories of his journey home flashed back at me. It is amazing how 5 years flew by so quickly.

Nothing about my whole birthing experience with Little H can be called conventional, even when it comes to feeding. When he was born 14 weeks before his due date, none of us were prepared. Even my body was not prepared. Two days after giving birth, I had to produce at least half an ounce of milk so they have something to feed my son for the day. However, I was not producing any, not even my colostrum is coming out. I was worried, stressed and anxious. I was desperate for milk. It was an answered prayer when my son’s neonatologist helped by giving me a massage similar to what lactation consultants do, and in a matter of minutes, my milk started to flow, not so much yet but just enough. I literally cried buckets when we delivered his first milk to NICU.
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September 2

Improving my Preemie’s feeding

With two months already at home with us, our main goal for our preemie baby is to gain weight and be able to catch up with those of 2 1/2 month old babies (his corrected age group). Now how do I know that  my baby is getting enough milk?
Baby Center.com says that if an infant is taking pure formula milk, the rule of thumb is to offer him 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day. So if a baby, weighs 7lbs, he should drink a total of 17.5oz of milk in 24 hours. For breastfed babies, KellyMom says that  exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk; a typical range of milk intakes is 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). Moms can also check out the bottle equivalent thru their website for the milk calculator. Based on my sample computation, a 7lb baby who takes in milk 8 times a day has to take in an average of 15.8oz a day with 2 to 2.2ozs per feeding.
My son is on mixed feeding, but either on formula or breastmilk, he does not meet his average requirement as computed thru the sites mentione above. The problem lies on two factors: he sleeps a lot the whole day, approximately 16-18 hours and his sucking reflexes are not very strong.
Since sleeping is something that we can not control, we (us parents and his neonatologist), decided to address his sucking reflexes concern. Small frequent feedings are a necessity and if he needs to be woken up from a good sleep, then so be it. His occupational therapist, Professor Cynthia Isaac, also suggested two sets of pressing exercises that aims to improve his sucking reflexes. One set is to be done once a day, and the other is set to be done 30 minutes prior to feeding. I will post a video of it once I got an approval from her.
Another helpful way to feed him when he’s too sleepy is to use a 1ml dropper. We only use a dropper to finish off  a 2oz bottled milk and to avoid spoilage, especially when what is being given is breastmilk.

These techniques proved to be very helpful, as my baby’s feeding already improved. He’s closed to achieving his minimum requirement.
Photo Credits: ehow.com