Breastfeeding Advice For Moms of Premature Infants
NICU fallout: It’s not about radiation
Are you the mom of a preemie who dreads pumping milk at night while the baby is in the NICU? You are not alone. Who can blame you? It’s inconvenient. It interrupts your sleep. It also interrupts your sleep! (If you noticed that repetition, you are probably NOT pumping at night.) Unfortunately, even though you are pumping every 2-3 hours during the day, your milk supply is also down…or dwindling.
Research shows there are five simple prerequisites for making milk: increased nutrition (500 calories a day is recommended, and we’re not talking just banana cream pie), increased fluid intake (10-12 glasses of water or other non-caffeinated and non-sugary drinks are best), decreased stress (I know how ridiculous that sounds with a baby in the NICU, but that’s what the experts say), lots of sleep (another laugh, since I’m telling you to get up in the middle of the night!) and pump every 2-4 hours round the clock.
While there is no solution to the fact that your milk supply follows the simple principle of supply and demand (ie, if the demand exists, the supply will follow), here is a suggestion for making the process more efficient and effective.
Set up a ‘pumping station.’ This would be ideally placed in a comfortable, well-lit area away from your partner (no need for you both to lose sleep). Before you retire for the evening, cover a plate of healthy snacks, (ie, celery and PNB, apples and cheese, or any protein/fruit/veggie combo which won’t require refrigeration overnight) and place it at your cozy spot where the breast pump is connected and RTG. Add a pitcher of iced water (or water + juice), a photo of your newborn, headphone access to soothing music, and you’ll be GTG when the alarm clock buzzes you awake.
Economy of movement
Your pumping cycle should take no more than 30 minutes. Here’s how:
1. Rise, empty your bladder & wash your hands. (In your haste, you may be tempted to skip this step , but omit it at your peril—breast infection, or mastitis— may be the painful result.)
2. Sit comfortably upright at your prepared place (good lung expansion increases milk flow), attach the pump on both sides simultaneously (find a device to facilitate this move online or at your local maternity shop), and start snacking.
3. Pump for 20 minutes, rinse your equipment, and back to bed, my pretty!
The additional early am snack will help keep your blood sugar level in a more even state, which in turn serves to increase estrogen and prolactin levels, which help elevate both your mood and your lactation supply. You should see results in a day or two.