Breastfeeding In The NICU
Discuss your breastfeeding intentions with the staff to be sure they know and understand your expectations, and can help you receive the information and assistance you need. If you plan on breastfeeding, you will need to speak to a staff member about utilizing a breast pump within the first 24 hours after birth. Most hospitals will lend you a pump, if you do not already have one. They can also assist you with the purchase of a breast pump if covered by insurance. A lactation consultant will go over with you how often to pump and where you can pump in privacy in the NICU.
While you are pumping for your baby, the NICU should be able to supply storage bottles for your breast milk. Always clearly label your bottles with your child’s name, date, and time. Find out where in the NICU the milk is stored and make sure they are being rotated properly to use the oldest milk first.
Try to keep to your pumping schedule in and outside the NICU. By pumping on schedule you can assure your milk supply stays strong and it will prepare you for the schedule of feedings when your child is discharged.
When the time comes to breastfeed your child, understand that there can be many challenges to breastfeeding a NICU baby. It’s common for them to tire quickly, have trouble sucking, or become easily distracted. It can all be very frustrating for new moms. Request a lactation specialist to help you with any concerns or problems you are experiencing.
Breastfeeding and/or pumping can be a challenge, but it is the best thing you can do for your NICU baby. Remember to stay hydrated and take care of yourself as well. Your milk supply will rely on your well-being.