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Old 03-20-2013, 02:43 PM   #1
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weaning off feeding tube

My little guy's last hurdle is the feeding tube and then he comes home! (Born at 34, 36 weeks corrected). We have been at it for six days and I am feeling... defeated? Or disappointed maybe? Definitely confused. I could use some info on how this worked for other preemies.

Right now he eats 6 times a day, 60 mL a feeding. 3 of which is bottle then NG tube. 3 is nursing then bottle then NG tube. The doc says once he gets to 80% of his feedings by mouth he will go to on demand, no tube for a two day trial. My issue is that every time he gets close they up his feeding amount. How is he ever supposed to achieve their goal if every day they increase it???? Is the idea that he will just all of a sudden eat everything in sight and get 80%?

My only IRL preemie mama friend doesn't remember her twins ever having to do this. I am not doubting my nicu's expertise, but when I ask questions they talk in circles. And not understanding is killing my moral.

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Old 03-20-2013, 04:26 PM   #2
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Feeding is frustrating. My 30 weeker had lots of respiratory issues and could not bottle feed until after 39 weeks. He had to have half his lung removed. Then he developed oral aversion and refused to drink a bottle with the NG in.

We had a great nurse that pulled his NG tube and he started bottle feeding better. He absolutely refused a bottle and did not like the way the NG felt in his throat. We had the neonatologists, OT's, and nurses witness his behavior.

Then they had me room in for 3 nights so he would have a consistent feeder. He had to gain each night. That is what finally got us out of there. They wanted him to eat 416 Mls minimum a day. He barely got it sometimes not quite. So they increased his calories to 24/oz and he has been slowly gaining. He still only averages about 460-500 Mls a day at 4 months old. He had a weak suck and immature suck swallow breathe due to not being able to learn until 39 weeks.

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Old 03-20-2013, 04:47 PM   #3
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I remember being so frustrated and thinking the same thing! DS decided he was done with the tube one morning, as I saw it dangling from his tiny hand one morning as I arrived. The docs wanted to put it back in but we waited a few days, and one day, he just started eating better and took off from there. Hang in there- it will happen!
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:07 PM   #4
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Re: weaning off feeding tube

As they grow, their need for more milk/formula increases, so the amount they're expected to eat increases. He will get there with time. My DD2 was slower than my DS with taking all feedings by bottle. I remember one nurse who really tried to force her to take a full bottle when she wasn't ready and it cause a Brady spell. Don't force it; he will do it when he's ready.
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:47 PM   #5
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Re: weaning off feeding tube

Hugs mama! My son just got off his tube, and he's almost 4.

No advice getting of the NG, though you might ask if you could be the one to do all the feedings for 24 hours since you'll be doing them at home, and see if you have more time and patience than the nurses do in getting him to eat orally.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:47 AM   #6
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Thank you for the stories and suggestions. Everyone is always so optimistic at the nicu and I guess it gives me false expectations. I decided to stop focusing on their 80% and instead focus on each feed. Never thought this would be his birth story, but I am thankful for all the medical support he has and the mental support I have (I love diaperswappers even more these days).
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:49 PM   #7
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Re: weaning off feeding tube

In my opinion nursing then bottle then NG is just WAY too much. You should not be breast feeding then bottle feeding. Pick one. He may be getting too tired and that could be why he is not eating as well. Is he nursing well? Can you pump after you nurse to tell how much he is taking or do a pre and post feeding weight. The just gavage the rest? You may find he eats better if he isn't getting worn out nursing.

Don't take this the wrong way because I'm all for breastfeeding but it is hard work and if you want him home faster bottle is the way to go and you can work on breast feeding at home. I usually ask my moms what is more important to them. If it is breast feeding then I just let them know it may be a longer road home.

I am also a firm believer in pulling the NG and letting them do ad lib. We call it 'tough love' in our NICU and you should suggest ditching the NG and see what happens.

My final suggestion is eating every 4 hours is kind of a long time for these little ones. We almost always do every 3 hour feedings and that will lower the volume he has to take each feed.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:43 PM   #8
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Just thought I would update! So the day after I posted, baby started chowing down. It was like a light bulb switched on. He made the 80% goal and went ad lib for two days. He gained plenty of weight and went home!

He has been gaining weight well and we are about to celebrate his first month!

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Originally Posted by twinmomstl View Post

Don't take this the wrong way because I'm all for breastfeeding but it is hard work and if you want him home faster bottle is the way to go and you can work on breast feeding at home. I usually ask my moms what is more important to them. If it is breast feeding then I just let them know it may be a longer road home.
I honestly thought about this, but most of the time he transferred more at the breast than he would take by bottle when I was gone.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:53 PM   #9
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Glad to hear it mama!!!

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