Our Lily was born 4 weeks prematurely. Luckily, her lungs were already fully developed, so she had no major complications. However, getting her to breastfeed was another story. The nurses and lactation specialists at the hospital helped as much as they could, but Lilyís sucking reflex was not quite fully developed and her mouth was so tiny that she could not properly latch on.
Since Lily was not able to get any nutrients while breastfeeding, it then became evident that we needed to begin using the SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) in order to get some calories in her. We started off trying to tube feed her, but that didnít work. So then we went to finger feeding her, and it worked! At this point, I began pumping and we were able to feed her my expressed milk. After we left the hospital, I would always attempt breastfeeding her first, but this usually resulted in both her and I getting frustrated and upset. We continued using the SNS for a few days and then switched to a bottle.
After Cathyís home visit, she suggested that I start using a nipple shield at every feeding. This helped Lily to not have to work so hard. The nipple shield wasnít a miracle worker, but it was a necessary step. We also rented a scale from Cathy for a couple of weeks and that was a big help in letting us know if she was gaining weight. By having support from the hospitalís lactation specialists, friends, family, and especially Cathy, I was successfully able to breastfeed Lily. Breastfeeding was very important to my husband and I. It was our commitment along with Cathyís help that made it possible for me to breastfeed Lily. On the day of Lilyís actual due date, she was finally able to breastfeed without any additional aids. SUCCESS!