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Breastfeeding Success With NICU Babies
Susie's Story

My son was born at 27 weeks. He weighed 3 lbs and 3 oz. I developed toxemia and had to have an emergency c-section. I was placed on general anesthesia so when I awoke, the doctor explained what happened. My son was airlifted to a children's hospital.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but the NICU staff had already left with him. I really didn't know what to do. My mother called La Leche League and they came and encouraged me. I called WIC and they loaned me an electric pump (looking back, that pump was great!). The La Leche rep showed me how to use it. I sat on my hospital bed and cried as I pumped. It was hard at first. The pull on the nipples hurt and pumping brought the reality my son was very sick.

When my mom arrived at the Children's Hospital they had already been giving my son formula and sugar water in the bottle. About 4 days after my son's birth, I was finally released and I went to the Children's Hospital. I was told that my son had already had formula and from a bottle, that getting him to breastfeed would be VERY hard. The difficulty of the situation was stressed to me. However, I am very stubborn. I had already made the decision to breastfeed, so breastfeed I would, no matter what people said. The staff there gave me vouchers to eat at the cafeteria. I would pump and try to feed him with these tiny bottles. Getting him to switch to breastmilk and off the formula was relatively easy.

Once the doctors were sure he was eating enough, they told me to go ahead and try to get him to latch on. I tried the typical hold but no go. I tried almost every hold, getting frustrated and feeling like a failure after every attempt. Eventually after 6 weeks of pumping, my son was finally able to latch on. He preferred the football hold. I manually expressed some milk on the areola and placed him close to the breast and, he latched on. I made sure that the breast wasn't engorged. I cried. My mom and my sister cried as they watched. I was so happy. Even to this day, I get choked up thinking of all I went through to breastfeed him.

He went on to breastfeed for 18 months. I would go through all that again if I had to. Every struggle was worth it to breastfeed my son and provide him with nature's best.


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