Breastfeeding when your Baby is Premature: Guest Post by Melissa

by Guest Post by Melissa

Kobe Mcgovern was born on 23 June @ 10:11am weight 2kgs/ 4.5 pound via natural birth. Kobes was 5 weeks early, due date 26 July. This is Melissa's story of her labour and early days of breastfeeding her premature baby.

Breastfeeding A Premature Baby

On the evening of 22 June, I had this uncontrollable urge to pack his hospital bag. My husband, Justin, left to play basketball at 7pm while I sorted though, folded & packed baby essentials. At about 7:30 pm I was just about finished when I decided that I needed just one more set of mittens. As I stood up to go to the nursery, I felt an odd trickle like I had peed myself. I toddled to the bathroom to clean myself up but every time I stood up from the toilet, another trickle. I phoned my sister to ask what it's like when waters break and with my explanation she believed it was my waters so I tried calling husband but no answer. I then called my midwife and mother in law to take me to the hospital.

It was quite tranquil, I had no pains and I was really relaxed. I continued to pack my bag with extras while my mother in law was trying to rush me in the car (she was in full panic mode) my brother in law had to go to the basketball stadium and tell hubby to meet me at hospital. My husband beat us to the hospital, probably because I was still fanny pantsy around the house lol! When I got to the hospital, they checked the fluid and confirmed it was my waters but unfortunately, I couldn't give birth at the Orange Base Hospital as the special care nursery was over full. They already had 7 babies in care with 3 other babies on the way not including mine. They really only have the staff and facilities for 4 babies so it was a race against the clock to get my transferred before the labour started. Everyone was in panic mode except for me. I was still feeling very relaxed and tranquil. I was pretty sure that I wasn't having this baby in a hurry, oh how wrong I was! They were able to transfer me to Nepean Hospital in Penrith so Hubby left to pack a bag for the trip. By about 10pm my contractions started but the plane wasn't going to be ready until at least 12pm so they had to give me medication to stop my contractions. 

Unfortunately, the tablets didn't work so I laboured the whole way to the airport, on the plane and at the airport in Sydney, this was definitely the hardest part being strapped down while in labour. The 40min trip from the airport to Nepean wasn't too bad though as I was given some morphine to help me relax. I arrived at Nepean at 2am and had quite a good labour and delivery from there. At 10:11am Kobe was born. He had an APGAR score of 6 then 9 but because he was premi he had to be taken to NICU. Hubby went with him while I tried to birth the placenta. After 20 minutes of trying unfortunately my placenta would not come away & I began to haemorrhage, however I didn't actually know I was bleeding. As they were counting numbers I was still confused & growing very sleepy. I heard them say that I have exceeded the allowable 650 & still increasing. The last number I remember them saying was 1,800. Next thing you know I had surgeons waving an authority to surgery and receive blood and they told me if I didn't sign & accept the blood I would die. I quickly signed and was raced to surgery. My husband had just got back as they were racing me off. I had time for a quick kiss. I still remember the look on his face, he was terrified.

The surgery went well & I was taken down to NICU to see Kobe again. Kobe was in a humidity crib as he couldn't regulate his temperature, he was being treated for Jaundice & was being tube fed but he was doing great!

I went on to have a blood transfusion the following evening where I received 2 units. Because of the whole ordeal, I wasn't really getting much colostrum and my milk came in for a day but it slowed right down so I wasn't getting much. It was frustrating because not only did I have no milk, Kobe didn't know the suck / breath reflux and had to be taught. We really struggled with latching and we both grew increasingly frustrated. I was expressing and going down to NICU nearly every feed and every care.Breastfeeding Tube Feeding Premature Baby

5 days after birth we were transferred back to Orange via patient transport. It was such a relief to be coming home. On arrival to Orange, we tried breastfeeding. Kobe screamed for the bottle and I decided that I no longer wanted to try because Kobe didn't like it. I told the nurse on duty this, she was hesitant but agreed. I also told my mother in law my decision. Although she respected my decision she spoke with my GP the following day.

My GP encouraged me to keep trying, as breastfeeding will give Kobe that extra immunity and encourage a quicker development which was a necessity for a prem. That evening I spoke with another nurse on duty and she explained why he was having trouble latching. Because he was premature he was still learning to suck properly and I just need to be patient with him. She than helped me latch and feed him, she was a miracle worker!

Mother and Baby

We would then alternate suck feeds & top him up with a bottle or tube feed after breastfeeding to ensure that he was full. I then spoke with my midwife and she gave me a script for motilium to boost my milk supply. I felt so much better knowing that I had more support and I could actually breast feed him! After a total of two weeks the paediatrician was more than happy with Kobe’s progress so I boarded at the hospital and breast fed him the whole day and night with bottle top ups.

We got to go home the following day! Now that we are home, we breast feed with the top up of breast milk or formula when needed. I am still taking motilium, drinking mothers milk tea and eating Milk and Love brownies and cookies to boost milk supply. Kobe is currently going through a growth spurt and feeding every 2 hours so the brownies and cookies are working great when I need to express.

He still has trouble latching properly so sometimes I need a little break for my nipples to recover. He has put on 220 grams a week for 2 weeks and put on 360 grams this past week, this puts him in the top 3 percentile of weekly development. He now weighs 3.2 kgs and growing every day! At this rate He will be a little fatty in no time ❤️ Fatherhood Premature Baby