August 2020 – After the NICU

After the NICU – August 2020
by Jenny R. McCormick

Breastfeeding a Preemie – Easier said than done!

For an estimated 15 million preterm babies born around the world, breastfeeding is just one of the many unique struggles preemie moms face. We all understand that breast milk is best, but many mothers of preemies are not always told that pumping milk for a preemie just might not work – It’s NOT your fault!

  • Easier said than done: Between the stress of watching your tiny person fight to survive, the guilt of a preterm birth and the overwhelming chaos of the NICU, pumping milk just doesn’t always happen. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you are not alone, many preemie moms struggle with milk production.
  • Everyone’s struggle is different: Just as each preemie experience is unique, so is breastfeeding. Own your own struggle and remember that this is all part of your journey. Stop blaming yourself and let go of the guilt.
  • Mean moms are just that, MEAN!: Have you experienced those overzealous moms who feel it’s their duty to chastise you for not breastfeeding? Remember, your circumstances are unique. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Move on. You don’t need that insensitivity.
  • Advocating for your preemie: Even if breastfeeding doesn’t happen, remember, YOU are doing the best thing for your preemie by ADVOCATING. Know your options. Reach out to your Lactation Specialist. Research other ways of providing nutrition for your preemie.
  • Join a support group: Meetings can be a wonderful place for preemie moms to share their challenges and successes as well as get breastfeeding advice. Joining a NICU support group or a moms club for parents of premature babies can also be a great way to connect with other moms who are breastfeeding preemies. Join Deb Discenza on the Preemie Inspire Network, a free and secure site for preemie parents dealing with many different preemie-related issues.
  • Feeding happens: It may not be the way we envision it, but regardless of the struggle, feeding happens and your preemie will thrive. Remember, dear preemie mama, you are doing the best you can, and that is enough.