My son was born at 25 weeks and I pumped the entire time he was in the NICU. I am still pumping and he is 14.5 months old. At first, it was very challenging to pump because I felt I couldn't pump often enough and I wasn't producing enough milk. Here are some things I found useful.
1. Drink a ton of water and eat plenty of food. This is not the time to skimp on calories.
2. Reglan should help a little, I used Domperidone. It's basically the same thing, but Dom costs as much as the bottle of champagne of the similar name, so I would probably stick with the Reglan. The one down side of Reglan is it can cause depression as a side effect, so be careful because you are definitely going through a tough time.
3. Fenugreek has worked for many friends I know. They took 2 capsules with every meal and many saw a slight increase in production.
4. Pump at least 6 times a day. If you have a hard day and only pump 4 times, go back to 6 or 7 the next day. When Max was in the NICU I pumped anywhere from 4-7 times a day. When he got home I pumped 6 times a day, usually around the same time of day, and that helped.
5. Breastfeed as soon as you can!!! Even if the baby doesn't latch on, it is amazing the increase in milk you'll get when you hold your baby close to your chest. It has something to do with hormones. I saw the biggest increase with milk when I was finally able to breasfeed Max (when he was about 12 weeks old, all babies are ready at different times though)
Whatever you do, don't dispair! Any amount of milk you can get for your baby is a huge benefit. And if you are producing more than they are giving your baby, be sure to store it in the freezer and keep it for later. When storing, try to store in bottles instead of bags, it will last longer. And be sure to rotate in the frozen stored milk on a daily basis and freeze new stuff in return (maybe one feeding a day) that way you will always have a store of milk.
I am 100% glad I stuck it out. My son has a severe Milk and Soy allergy and can only tolerate one formula called Neocate. It is VERY expensive and would probably cost about $500 a month if I was feeding him that full time. The allergies did not appear until he was out of the NICU, so you never know with these things.
I wish you the best of luck and please feel free to write me if you have specific questions!
DH, John (35)
Max, 1/20/03, 25 wks, 534g. (IUGR), severe PE