So excited to have Jaclyn contributing to the newborn series on Kristle’s Clarity today! She’s sharing some great tips from her own experience.
Hello! My name is Jaclyn and I blog at Beauty and the Binky. I graduated from the University of Night Wakings, I built a 30-pound baby with my breasts, and my middle name is Setting-Expectations-Everywhere-We-Go. My son spent 3 days in the NICU after birth, where we had a roller coaster introduction to breast feeding and pumping. Once we got home from the NICU, I discovered that my experience was much more stressful than it needed to be and I hope to ease that for other mamas. I actually started my whole blog in hopes to help other breastfeeding mamas jump into this whole thing with a little smoother start than I had. Of course, the blog has evolved into so many different avenues!
My Tips For Breast Feeding in the NICU:
1. Notify the NICU staff of your decision to breast feed
It’s common that moms of NICU babies are also recovering and unable to breastfeed. I discovered that it’s fairly uncommon for NICU babies to be breastfed during their NICU stay, so it’s important to clearly notify the NICU staff that you’ve made the choice to breastfeed.
2. Go to the NICU with your baby or arrive before your baby, if possible
In addition to #1, going to the NICU with your baby or arriving before them is important. Not only so you can inform the staff of your choice to breastfeed, but also so that you can get started nursing your new baby!
3. Start pumping
As soon as you’re finished with your first feed, get hooked up to a pump! It may not be possible to be present for every single feed during your whole NICU stay, so pumping will be a big part of this journey. Newborns eat every 2 hours (or more often!), so it’s good to plan to leave some pumped milk. Pumping will also help to speed up the process of getting your milk to come in (which can take up to SEVEN days in a healthy woman!) so that, again, you can get to nursing your new baby! (Don’t forget how important and invaluable colostrum is, which is the white substance that you produce before the actual breast milk comes in.)
4. Be present for every feed, if possible
As I mentioned above, it may not be possible to be present for every feed. Do your absolute best to be present for every feed that you’re able to be present for. Pumping in the early days is difficult, may not supply enough milk initially, and often ends up in the use of formula when you’re absent for a feed. If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, you have to accept that it is a demanding, long-term choice…starting as soon as your new baby arrives! Try to jump right into that demand by showing up for every feed.
My Tips For Pumping in the early days:
Breastfeeding, as well as pumping, is a whole science! There is so much knowledge needed in order to fully understand how breasts produce milk. Find it. Find all the boob knows. Learn how breasts make milk, learn how much they make, learn. it. all.
As I mentioned in #1, there is so much knowledge that goes into breast feeding! With all of that knowledge, you’ll need to start planning your days around pumping. I hope you heard me correctly: you will need to plan your day around pumping. Newborns feed every 2 hours (or less) and that means you’ll either have to nurse every 2 hours or you’ll have to pump every 2 hours (or a combination of both, of course).
3. Stay persistent
As I said above, the choice to breastfeed is a demanding, long-term decision. Stay persistent, my friend. Go into this journey with determination and stick to it. The best advice I ever heard was, “Never give up on a bad day.” Work through the bad days, find more knowledge if needed, and don’t give up on a bad day.
I know that this tip may be laughable after I stressed how demanding and time-consuming breast feeding and pumping is, but try to relax! Read a book, drink water, or browse the internet. Having a baby in the NICU, breastfeeding, and pumping are all stressful and chaotic experiences. Try to relax and adjust to this new whirlwind that is life with a newborn!
I hope you have a wonderful NICU and/or pumping experience. If you have any questions, please hop over to Beauty and the Binky and ask away!