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When I found out I was pregnant (with twins) after years trying and suffering a miscarriage. I was beyond excited but overwhelmed at the same time. But the question of whether I was going to breastfeed or not wasn’t a thought that I ever had. Yet, I was constantly being asked on my decision.
Once hitting the second trimester I was finally getting over the morning sickness and shock of not caring one baby but TWO. So I started doing my own research on breastfeeding and trying to decide what was best for our family.
I looked on the internet and read varies blogs from other mom’s who had to make the same decision as I was facing. Then I reached out to family and friends and of course my doctor. I knew this was a huge decision to make. Being a first time mom I wanted to be PERFECT at it.
I figured since I was only in the second trimester I had plenty of time. I was wrong. Because I delivered my twins via emergency c-section at 25 weeks due to preeclampsia and SIUGR.
When my daughters were born so premature it wasn’t a choice anymore.
Due to their small weight and health concerns, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. My goal now was to pump and build up my milk supply. Hours after delivering I remember my nurse bringing in the hospital provided pump. I had done some research on breastfeeding but I didn’t do any on having to pump.
I was a little intimated but I wanted to do everything to help my babies. By providing my milk it felt like the only thing making me feel like a mom at this point.
I was able to make it over to the NICU and meet with a lactation nurse who was amazing. She explained the equipment, the procedure, and made me feel at ease. I never realized how much goes into pumping and I figured I just had two babies so my supply should be there, right?
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I was wrong my supply was low.
After my daughters being in the NICU for only four days, my smaller twin passed away. I was already under a lot of stress, high blood pressure, and I had PCOS which unfortunately severally impacted my supply.
Even though my supply was small I continued to pump as my surviving twin was small and didn’t require a lot of milk at this point. I was able to build up a small but decent milk supply for her.
Since I delivered premature twins I was told multiple times that my breast milk was liquid gold. By hearing that only put even more pressure on me to provide the very best for my daughter. It’s even harder to hear when your supply isn’t instant.
I started off filling small syringes that eventually would be dropped into my daughter’s cheeks and later she would be fed my breast milk through a feeding tube. I was disappointed I was missing out on that bond I would gain with her during breastfeeding as exclusively pumping was so impersonal.
It was so frustrating spending hours a day hooked up to the pump and only getting small amounts that could only fill syringes. This happened for weeks until finally, I was able to fill smaller bottles. It still was smaller amounts but I was so excited to be able to provide my daughter my milk.
The hospital provided me with a Medela pump which I would defiantly recommend. It was easy to travel with, and the parts were easy to clean. I also was able to get a pump through my insurance but decided to stick with the hospital one provided.
Pumping in the NICU.
When you are pumping in the NICU there will be lactation rooms where you can hook your equipment up to the pump. I had extra equipment I kept at my daughter’s bedside. After a few months, she moved into her own private room with a pump in there so I didn’t have to leave her room every few hours.
A lactation nurse was always available to help answer any questions. She was able to provide me with a list of remedies to try to help increase my supply.
It’s amazing how much of an increase I was able to have after I finally stuck with drinking 8 oz a water a day. It even helps if you focus on eating balanced meals every day. I’ll be honest, this was not a priority at the beginning for me. I was under so much stress and emotions taking care of myself was the last thought on my mind. I was reminded by my husband that in order to take care of our daughter I needed to take care of myself first. Grab a cute water bottle like this one, and keep it filled at all times and I know you will see an increase.
I had never heard of this vitamin until my lactation nurse recommended me to start taking it right away to help increase my supply. The recommended dose was 3 pills 3 times a day. I started taking 3 pills a day then increased every few days. You can get the vitamin, here. I did see an increase in my supply once I started taking the vitamin it wasn’t a large increase but to me, any increase was worth it.
- Power pumps.
I started doing power pumps once a day to increase my supply. Pumping for 20 mins starting with a 10 min pump followed by a 10 min rest, then repeat. I would do this for a total of 20 mins or until my milk stopped flowing. During my power pumps and my next pumping session I would produce my highest numbers. Therefore, doing one power pump a day was worth it.
There are so many other products you can try out there to help you increase your supply.
When I called it quits.
Like I have said in the beginning my supply was always on the lower side but with the recommend products I was able to see an increase. I was able to exclusively pump for my preemie for several months. After a few months, I found nothing was helping this time and my supply was decreasing. I made the decision then to quit pumping.
The decision to quit was extremely hard. I was under a lot of stress and working through my depression and grief from losing one of my daughters. But I was devastated. It felt like I was failing as a mom but most importantly I was failing my daughter.
At this point, the NICU was supplementing my breast milk with formula since my supply wasn’t enough. They would continue to do this until my supply ran out and she would exclusively be on formula.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t miss pumping at all. It was a love-hate relationship from the beginning. But I did it because it was what my daughter needed and I would make the same decision again if I had to. I would have even continued to pump if my supply wouldn’t have stopped.
I realized that I was able to supply my daughter with my breast milk for months. My supply may have never been something to brag about but she got my milk when she needed it the most.
It helped her grow big and strong in the NICU. My daughter was able to get off a breathing tube, graduated to a crib, eat from a bottle and eventually come home.
I may not have been the typical mom but I was a NICU mom.
As a NICU mom, I put so much added pressure on myself that wasn’t needed. All that mattered was that my daughter was being fed. I wish I would have been able to supply her longer with my breast milk but it just wasn’t an option for me.
Therefore, I won’t let anybody put me down for that. I did what I could and more.
Pumping in the NICU was not an easy task. Being a NICU mom you are already under enough stress and pressure watching your little one fight for their life. If you are able to pump or breastfeed your NICU baby then congratulations mama!
Just take it a day at a time. Your supply may take a few days to come in but don’t give up it will come in. Lean on your lactation nurse for advice and pointers. And if your supply is on the lower side like mine was, that’s ok too.
Remember you’re a NICU mom, you are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. So hang in there.