After discharge we were supposed to only allow baby one or two feedings at the breast and the rest had to be bottle fed. Additionally, he was prescribed oatmeal for his reflux and added calories. We were supposed to mix a cocktail of formula calories, fine ground oatmeal and pumped breastmilk for essentially every feed with no more than 4 hours in between feeds. Huh?
This all went out the window as soon as we walked out of the nicu in a chaotic unfolding of events. Lets just say we set off the alarm on our way out. oops!
Disclaimer: My experience is my own and of course is not meant to replace or serve as medical advice, but only my opinion. As always, discuss your personal situation with your doctors.
I would never advise anyone to diregard their nurses/doctors recommendations. However, our baby was discharched with only a few hours notice and my pump was in the process of being replaced. I never intended not to follow our drs. orders but it all just panned out that way. Our baby is now three months old and continues to be exclusively breastfed. I take him to his monthly weigh ins at the Ped and he has been gaining a healthy amount of weight without the added calories prescribed by the nicu.
Here are some final tips for pumping in the nicu:
- Buy nursing wear or button down clothing for easy pumping and kangaroo care.
- Kangaroo care every single day if possible. This will help your milk supply. I think I only missed one or two days because I was sick.
- Get a diaper or pumping bag for packing your pumping accessories, storage bottles and labels.
- Set up a pumping station at home and get organized to save up time.
- Pump bedside or in the lactation room at the nicu.
- Take postnatal vitamins with dha and probiotics.
- Taste test your first batch of frozen milk to check for excess lipase activity.
- Start practicing non-nutritive sucking with baby as soon as the nicu allows and do it every day regardless of your intent to breastfeed or not. This will also help your milk supply among many other nutritional/health benefits for baby.
- Help baby latch as soon as the nicu allows and try to nurse him everday even if it seems like preemie doesnt get it. The nurses will tell you that preemies tire out more on the breast but the research actually says baby burns less calories on the breast compared to bottle.
- Take advantage of nicu lactation consultants and get help from them if you are having supply issues, latching issues or have any questions about feeding baby at home.
- Take advantage of nicu speech therapists and ask about any feeding questions or concerns you may have. We found out our baby was tongue tied from a lactation-friendly speech therapist at the nicu.
- Get to know the nicu nurse in charge of mixing and preparing human milk. Our nurse was so helpful to point out my frozen milk may have a lipase problem after we voiced some concerns about baby's feeding progress. She even deviced an experiment for us to be 100% sure our baby wasn't liking the frozen milk. She also volunteered to personally prepare his fresh milk as we barught it in. This was HUGE during his last weeks in the nicu! They are also able to tell you when your stored nicu milk is getting low.
- Pray for your milk supply. Its hard to lactate under the stress of the nicu.
Stay strong nicu mama! Exclusive pumping is hard work but it is possible and rewarding. Read my entire series of posts on pumping for micropreemie | Lactation Essentials | Focus on Preemie | Miracle Medicine | Homestretch | Final Notes