Breastfeeding :: The Triple Feed Method

Breastfeeding Series{Click image above for more stories of inspiration, encouragement, and support.}

I always planned on breastfeeding Skeeter.  Even when I was still pregnant with her, I set a personal goal of exclusively breastfeeding for six months.  I ended up exceeding that goal by breastfeeding for thirteen months, but that wasn’t without it’s issues.

When I was hospitalized at 31 weeks pregnant {read about it on this blog post}, the hospital’s education department didn’t miss a beat.  They set me up with an unlimited supply of breastfeeding instructional videos.  My daughter would be born early and the need for mother’s milk was more important than ever.

When Skeeter was born at 32 weeks, she spent two weeks with a feeding tube.  I exclusively pumped for those two weeks to provide her with as much milk as possible.  Once she’d accepted a bottle, her neonatologist gave us the order to attempt breastfeeding.  The lactation specialist met me in the NICU, and we officially began our breastfeeding journey.

Feeding Tube

She actually nursed pretty well while she was in the NICU, but that quickly came to an end when we got home.  She didn’t seem to get enough milk when she nursed, and our nursing sessions frequently ended with us both in tears.  I pumped plenty of milk at the time, so I’d end up giving her a bottle and feeling discouraged.

I luckily chose to attend a lactation support group at the hospital, partially for adult social interaction, but mostly for help.  I sat in the class while the other moms nursed their happy babies…and mine screamed at my breast.  Thankfully, one of the wonderful lactation consultants came over to talk to me.  She recommended the Triple Feed System :: first, I’d nurse Skeeter for 30 minutes, then I’d supplement – either with pumped milk or the high calorie formula she was prescribed, followed by a pumping session to relieve myself and maintain a milk supply.  I learned that preemies need more time than the average baby to learn how to latch and effectively nurse.

I actually hated the suggestion at first; I felt like breastfeeding looked so easy in all the videos – why not for me too?  But I desperately wanted my fairy tale breastfeeding story, so I gave it a try.  I won’t lie – it was exhausting.  A normal 30 minute feed quickly became an hour and a half.  But after a while, I noticed she wasn’t as hungry after nursing.  Before I knew it, we didn’t need to supplement at all.  Our journey from here on wasn’t a breeze by any means, but I still consider it a success, and I’m glad we worked out our initial issues.

Please Note :: We are so very thankful to have A Woman’s Work sponsoring our entire breastfeeding series! They believe that bearing and nurturing children is some of the most important work in the world, and we could not agree more.  If you are searching for products, services, and resources for birth, breastfeeding, and beyond – we urge you to check them out both online and in store!

A Woman’s Work

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Houston, TX 77098



  1. Thanks so much for your post! I just brought home my NICU baby last week and have been experiencing similar challenges with breastfeeding, pumping, and getting my babe a full feed without it taking 1 1/2 hours! Grateful for you sharing your experience!

  2. I did this. I feel like it made me a little crazy and even more tired- I can’t believe I kept it up!! When I finally quit breastfeeding, we both slept better and it was all so much better. I wanted to nurse so bad, but I wish someone had told me it was okay if it didn’t work out. I had horrible guilt for stopping breastfeeding after 3 months, but it just never worked out well for us (medical challenges and NICU stay had a lot to do with it).

  3. I triple-fed my daughter for 8 weeks. She was born at 35W5D and had trouble latching. I did exactly what your lactation group suggested. I would first nurse her, than supplemented with previously pumped milk or formula, than pump myself. It was exhausting but worth it. I asked for help wherever I could get it but some days it would just be me and literally a feeding session (nurse, bottle, pump) could last for 90 mins (repeat every 3 hours). I eventually stopped because she had good weight and I was just plain exhausted. I don’t envy anyone who has to triple-feed but in the end it’s all worth it.

  4. Going through this now, he was 32 weeks now 3 weeks corrected. I’m exhausted and cry all the time. I’m curious how long it took before Skeeter was mostly off supplements?


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