Nipple Confusion with My Preemie Twins

I had such troubles with my little preemie twins, getting them to properly latch on to the breast because of nipple confusion. Born at only 32 weeks, weighing 3lbs 2oz and 3lbs 9oz, they were in NICU for a month. When I was first told that it was ok to start trying to breastfeed them, I had only had 2 days of attempting to latch them on when I was put on the antibiotic Cipro (the only antibiotic you can't take while nursing), because of the complications that caused their 2 month premature birth. Fortunately I had pumped a lot and they were able to have mostly breastmilk. I was short about a days worth, so they got some formula feedings. They were tube fed at first and then bottle fed by the nurses. Then they were continually bottle fed with breastmilk for the next week and I got about another 3 days of attempting to latch them on, once a day (I was still quite weak and could only get to the hospital 1 hour a day), before I got an infection from the stent I had connecting between my bladder & kidney, and I was put back on the Cipro for 10 days. Now I only had about 5 days worth of breastmilk pumped so they got 50% breastmilk and 50% formula for the next 11 days.

In the meantime they came home and I was forced to pump and bottle feed because they had virtually no experience nursing directly from the breast. They each only really had 1 solid latch on in the hospital. By the time I was off the antibiotics they were totally used to the artificial nipples so latching them on the breast was incredibly difficult. They would scream in frustration. What I started doing was to give them about an ounce from the bottle to take the edge off their hunger, and then try to latch them on. Their positioning was poor; their tongues were not coming out over their lower lip and their upper lip had to be pulled up and out each time. After a few days I lessened the amount I would give them from the bottle before latching them on to the breast. Finally I got to the point where I could instead latch them on to a pacifier (a temorary tool, during that period, which I no longer use) and then slip them the breast. Eventually, after a month or so they were able to go directly on to the breast. Over time, their positioning got better. They are now 10 mo and exclusively breastfed - no solids yet!

The whole process of teaching them to breastfeed took intense dedication on my part because I refused to give in to formula. To me it is not an option. Formula should be by prescription only, reserved for life threatening situations, such as what I experienced; there was no choice, my milk was contaminated. Of course the second my milk was safe, it was time for 100% breastmilk. Formula had served its originally intended purpose but now it was time for nature to take over. My lactation consultant admitted to me, once the boys were successfully being nursed, that she honestly doubted that I would ever get them 100% directly breastfed, but that she knew that I would never give formula and would pump for the next 3 years if necessary. She was also wise enough not to tell me until after I succeeded. She was right about the pumping though. Thankfully, they finally learned nature's way. It was a difficult struggle, but it was worth it to insure that my babies receive all the nutrients they need for proper growth and development and optimal health. I am so grateful for that!


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