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Sorry if this has already been asked. I'd like to research more but this is somewhat time sensitive.

We're trying to get our precious newborn weaned off of syringe tube feeding. It's been the "easy" way to make sure he's getting enough fluids, which is important for getting his jaundice down. However, it's doing a number on mommy's breasts, with them getting neither a good latch nor sufficient let down to avoid getting engorged. We are just transitioning from colostrum to milk, so the flow is not very much, and baby does not know to wait for it when the tube is so ready and free flowing. As a result he gets frustrated every time we try to get him to latch, and it seems to just be getting worse. We're thinking of pulling the tube for a bit and just making him get hungry enough to try even slow breastfeeding, just so he can realize it works, and so that the stimulation will eventually increase the supply. Any ideas on how we can retire the tube and get mommy and baby going strong on just the breastfeeding?

P.S. - Answers to the question as asked would be appreciated. We've considered bottle feeding, and at times have resorted to that just to give mommy some much needed rest. But that doesn't solve the engorgement problem, and we'd really rather try to make this breastfeeding thing work.

Thanks, tired tube helper daddy

  • You all have my sympathy. Breast engorgement hurts, and breastfeeding is hard on moms of newborns under normal circumstances, let alone these added stressors However, you need to discuss this with your baby's doctor. If your baby's serum bilirubin was high enough to place an NG tube, it's important to their health. For engorgement, a good breast pump is a life-saver. (Fyi: breast and bottle fed my first for months.) – anongoodnurse Sep 27 at 14:31
  • Thank you. It's not an officially mandated feeding tube, still getting acquainted with the correct terminology. Really just an oral tube attached to a syringe pumping Similac, suggested by the LC but not required. We're just using it to entice the little guy into a good latch. We've had some success with him finishing the syringe and pulling the tube, and he staying latched well, but last night was super rough. Might be he's just too tired and impatient, so letting him sleep a little longer, feeding after 5 hours rather than the normal 3. That is giving mommy a break too. – Bondolin Sep 27 at 14:36
  • Also, working on getting a breast pump through covering insurance. – Bondolin Sep 27 at 14:37
  • I've not practiced pediatric medicine in a long time; never heard of this. It's clear that this is a really difficult time. I can't say much more; that would be me trying to assess a situation that I have no business in. As far as a breast pump goes, buy a cheap one while waiting on your insurance carrier for the better version. It sounds like your baby is having a hard time, too. You might want to read about letting them sleep longer; it may be compounding the situation (wake up hungrier, frustrated waiting for let-down, etc.) Again, call your baby's doc. This is what they're there for. – anongoodnurse Sep 27 at 14:49
  • We have a second hand pump we are using for preventing the engorging for now, until we get our own. – Bondolin Sep 27 at 20:06
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This is not really an answer, more of a suggestion: can you find some help from a lactation consultant or a local breastfeeding support service? Of course in person would be better but given the limited time and the current situation with the pandemic also a phone consultation could help.

Assuming you are in the US, there's La Leche League and possibly there are further options at the local level, I think your pediatrician should be able to direct you on the possible options.

My experience with my son was similar in the sense that although he thankfully wasn't premature he had a hard time with taking on a good latch and for the first two-three weeks only latched through silicone tips. Weaning him off those while starting lactation was hell, and I had help from my mother who had breastfed and from a local breastfeeding support service. I feel for you deeply.

A thing that helped was learning how to manually express milk. It helps both with the engorgement and it can help also the baby, if the mom is able to get the milk flowing before attaching the baby, he will get some 'easy' milk and then possibly be more motivated to suck. For learning that there are online resources and also some youtube videos (if you manage to dodge the weird stuff).

A last thing, as anongoodnurse was saying, be careful of letting him sleep longer as he may still be too young for hunger being coordinated with the need for food.

Best of luck to the three of you! I hope you'll manage to make breastfeeding work because it's a great thing for your baby.

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  • The OP mentioned in a comment that they have a lactation consultant (LC), but good suggestions none the less. I'm a bit confused by this statement: "...he may still be too young for hunger being coordinated with the need for food." Can you clarify? I don't know if this means they feel hungry even when fed, don't feel hungry when they should, confuse desires, or something else entirely. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Sep 28 at 14:05
  • Oh sorry I missed the part about the lactation consultant entirely. – cecilian - MonicaWasMistreated Sep 28 at 14:17
  • By the "hunger being coordinated with the need for food" it's indeed confusing but I wrote it yesterday night just before going to sleep :/ What I meant was that according to what they told me at the pre-natal course it's very dangerous to let young babies sleep too much between feedings because if they go too low on blood sugar levels they will keep sleeping (as opposed to wake and cry) because sleeping is an energy-saving state for the organism. – cecilian - MonicaWasMistreated Sep 28 at 14:23
  • Ah, thank you for explaining! – anongoodnurse Sep 28 at 17:46
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Happy to say mother and baby are still doing well, thank God. We seem to have something working out, so I figured I'd update just in case this situation is similar for someone else.

We had our personal pediatrician come by and examine mother and baby on day 3, and she offered some very helpful insights and advise. She said baby did not appear to be overly jaundiced, which was one of the main things motivating us to use the feeding tube/syringe at all costs. She advised using no further formula supplement at all to make things as little confusing to baby as possible, and to provide mommy as much let down as possible. One of the very helpful things was where she assured us that pumping to avoid engorgement was not needed as frequently as we had been doing, which was a great relief to mommy since not only was it somewhat painful, but it also took a good deal of time away from much needed rest. To actually get the baby latching well on a good flow, she advised using a pillow to provide some of the support that had been coming from mommy's strained arm. The big thing there was that lactating is a parasympathetic function, which basically means it really only works well when the body is nice and relaxed, so straining to keep the baby in place was slowing the flow.

That's all a bit jumbled, sorry. Daddy is still tired. But I hope I can put it all together with how it all ended up working out. Pillow made mommy more relaxed, so better flow. We were going to use a little syringe to entice a latch, but that ended up not being necessary, baby was hungry, flow was good, so latch was good. I guess it might have helped that syringe feeding had at least given some steps in the right direction, to establish the notion in baby that at breast when hungry and sucking gives some kind of milk. It also helped that baby was not tired and fussy, and so had more patience to work for the latch. We've not used the syringe since then, mommy is getting much more let down and a very good flow, baby is healthy, still a little jaundiced but in a good way to getting out of it, and is almost a pound heavier than birth weight. So again, thank God we seem to be on the right track now. If any of that does not seem quite well connected or make sense, likely not your fault, I'm just working off this sleep deficit and am still a little scatterbrained, though lately I've been getting some good stretches of night's rest. Just wanted to get something posted while the details were still a little fresh. Because documentation. Please let me know if anything could use clarification, and thanks again for all the comments and advice.

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    Excellent results! +1. "Daddy is still tired." Yes; this lasts variable lengths of time. I remember being excited to get three uninterrupted hours of sleep after having my first! Congrats, btw! – anongoodnurse Sep 30 at 4:13
  • Good to know things are going good! Have a smooth sailing in these new and uncharted waters of parenthood :) – cecilian - MonicaWasMistreated Oct 1 at 14:18

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