The beauty of breast feeding
My littlest guy is 25 days old (a little over 34 weeks adjusted) and he seems to be doing well. He averages a weight gain of about 2 oz a day and is approaching the 4 pound mark. He is still being tube fed, but in the past week I have begun to introduce him to the breast. Teaching him to breast feed isn’t easy, but it is one of the most rewarding tasks I do these days.
There is nothing better than spending those quiet moments, just before tube feeding begins, with my tiny naked baby cuddled in my arms, doing skin-to-skin. I insert him into my low-cut v-neck shirt, curl his petite body around me, and press his naked body against my bare belly. His little head dons a white hat with blue whales as it peaks out of the top of my shirt and nestles into my breast. He is awake, eyes wide, staring at me with wonder. I speak to him softly as I introduce the nipple to him, trying to get him to open his mouth wide enough to envelop it. He is not sure what to do or why he is doing it since he is use to his hunger being automatically sated through the tube directly into his belly, but his natural rooting reflexes take over. Once we manage to work together to get the nipple into his mouth, he still isn’t sure what to do with it, but eventually he latches and manages to suck for a few brief seconds. It doesn’t last long, but a smile spreads across his face so wide that it forces him to close his eyes. Sounds of what might even be a tiny hiccup of a laugh escape him and he knows this is something good. We work at this several more times over the course of about five minutes. I gently a sure him that he is doing a good job and acknowledge how exhausting his efforts are, but let him know that we will continue to work on it day by day and he will eventually get it. After about five minutes of valiant effort, he passes out, using my breast as a pillow, sleeping peacefully in my arms as his belly is filled with milk through the tube.
It may seem like such a short amount of time, but it is the quality of that time that counts. Nothing else around us matters in those few moments, it is just us, mother and son, working together as a team, to accomplish such an intimate and natural goal. For many babies and moms, breast feeding comes easily, but not for my little preemie; for him it takes work, exhausting work, but we do is work together and I enjoy every second of it. There is not a better time in my day than the time I spend bonding with my tiny little guy over the breast.