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Breastfeeding Success With NICU Babies
Karen's Story

As a former employee in a NICU and having my baby delivered at 35 weeks stay in the NICU, I have learned even the "little things" are important. Progress in small steps leads to big rewards so it is always important to remember how crucial it is for a parent to be involved as much as possible--no matter how much the nurses or doctors try to or appear to keep you away. If breastfeeding, make it clear from the beginning that you will be pumping and want breastmilk only for your baby when the time is ready. Let them know that you want to participate in all types of feedings, including tube feedings. Let them know you want to participate in Kangaroo Care--skin to skin contact.

As a parent it is emotionally and physically hard. You have to get up all hours of the night to pump and visiting hours are very strict--or shall I say--restricted it seems. I remember 2am drives to the hospital daily to deliver my breastmilk. Moms need to sleep as much as possible and eat healthy. Pumping takes a lot of energy out of you and you need all you can get for your visits in the NICU.

Never feel bad about asking questions. The nurses and doctors appear always too busy but there is never a good time--so ask questions or write them down to ask when you visit next. Ask for pamphlets on a particular subject. This helps out for family and realatives who are overwhelming you with questions after a long night. Bring a photo of mom, dad and siblings to place in the crib so your baby can be near your faces and the nurses can meet and greet you easier. Bring disposable cameras and ask the nurses to take pictures of the baby such as bathtime or when the baby gets his face equipment removed and they get a good view of your baby's face. I remember it took us 2 days to see what our baby looked like because of all the equipment in the way. Make a friend in the NICU with a Mom. Chances are you will see her again at the scrub in area or waiting room waiting for visiting hours to begin. You can share your experiences and lean on each other for encouragement. Exchange emails or phone numbers if you feel comfortable so you have a support link. I hope you find some of my suggestions helpful.

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