Breastfeeding in NICU

Breastfeeding in NICU

Melinda’s son, Tristan, had just turned 2 when her twins, Amelie & Connor, were born 8 weeks premature… here is Melinda’s touching story…

People dConnor and Amelie in NICU happyhumanpacifier.comon’t realise how valuable every single drop of breast milk is…

My babies were born on 2 December 2015, 8 weeks early, at 32 weeks. (Due date was 26 January 2016).

My Caesarian was scheduled for 39 weeks, but my waters broke at 31 weeks. I was on bed rest for 8 days but kept on dilating. Doctors gave steroids for lungs.

I met with the Neonatologist in NICU, Blouberg Netcare, Ricky Dippenaar, who told me what would happen once the twins were born. He said you won’t see them – they will go straight to incubators. But I saw them for a brief few seconds each after birth.
Connor was born 2.1kgs, and was stable. Amelie was 1.6kgs and started turning blue just after birth, because her lungs weren’t inflating properly.

I found out later that I went into labour because I contracted a virus in the placenta, and the same virus caused the steroid injections not to work, which were supposed to help the lungs develop in utero.

Both babies struggled to breathe properly, but Amelie was in a critical condition.

I cried so much in NICU. You feel as a Mom that somehow this is your fault: “Why didn’t I protect them enough? Why did my body let me down… you know… “Mom Guilt”. When they give you that gift nappy bag in the hospital it comes with a bag of guilt.

At Netcare Blouberg NICU they have a nurse who sits and watches every breath they take. You are only allowed to see them from midday ’till 6pm, and in the evening from 8pm to 10pm. Only Moms and Dads are allowed, no siblings. On weekends they allow Grans, but just one at a time.

You are not allowed to hold them until their lungs are developed enough to breathe on their own (once they are off the CPAP). They are on machines. You are allowed to touch them.

In C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure), air is delivered to a baby’s lungs either through small tubes in the baby’s nose or through a tube that has been inserted into her windpipe. The tubes are attached to a machine, which helps the baby breathe but does not breathe for her

With every breath, the lungs are ‘stretched’. Premature lungs are rigid and the steroid-injection helps to make it flexible. Since the injection I received, did not work, their lungs were very hard and had to be ‘massaged’.

The lungs start to make breathing-movements between week 31 and 34. At 32 weeks they were still ‘unfit’.

With twins, studies show it’s best to keep them together. But they can’t in NICU, because they can’t monitor them together. It’s all about the welfare of the child in NICU. The child’s needs are prioritized to the mother’s. And that’s comforting. But it’s still difficult when you’re emotional and the medical staff are ‘all business’.

in-nicu-you-are-just-the-mother-happyhumanpacifier-comYou ask any Prem Mom, you’ve never cried as much as you cry in NICU. The whole environment is Pro Baby. You’re just the mother. The Baby is Paramount. If there’s an emergency they send all the mothers out. One baby was born in a critical condition, they got specialists in, and NICU was closed for a whole day and we could not see the babies. Or if you have a cold – you cannot go to your children. For the sake of all the babies there.

You’ve just given birth, you’re emotional and now the Doctors and Nurses are so strict.

After a C-section you’re still on bed rest for 3 days. All the other Moms are there with babies on their chests. It’s a very empty feeling.

I had a hand pump with Tristan. With them, I luckily had bought a double electric breast pump (Medela Maxi Swing) when I found out I was expecting twins.

The week of bed rest before babies were born was really hard. Tristan had just had his 2nd birthday (on the 2nd November), and I landed up in hospital the last week of November. I had never spent a night away from him before. Luckily, Chris (my husband), was on standby, and didn’t get called out to work during that time (he’s an Airline Pilot). Tristan really struggled. I wasn’t prepared for it either. With every check-up the Doctor had said, “You’ll carry full-term”. I had my mind set on delivering at 38 weeks.

The twins were born at 4 in the afternoon. It took a while to get out of post op, and they have to settle the babies first. They feed them intravenously.* That night, at 8pm, a nurse came in to help hand express colostrum. We got a lot of colostrum. She collected it in a syringe and took it to NICU.

*Many babies in the NICU receive essential fluids and electrolytes through a tube in a vein called an IV. Some babies may need a special preparation called parenteral hyper alimentation, which contains nutrients they need until they are able to take milk feedings.

After that, I couldn’t get any more milk. Initially I tried by hand, a nurse then advised I use a breast pump to stimulate the milk flow, and then express by hand, but I still got nothing. They said the colostrum would see them through the night. I slept, and the next morning tried again. The maternity ward was understaffed; there were 3 other Moms who had given birth that night. I asked for help, and the nurse asked if I could see if I could come right on my own. When you’re a 2nd time Mom they expect you to figure out stuff on your own. They didn’t help with the expressing. I tried pumping and hand expressing, and started to panic. A nurse came to help, much, much later, and she also only got a few drops.

My Gynae came around to do her post op check-up, and suggested putting me on esparite (generic of eglanol). I said I’m not too keen to go on this, the nurse said, “Here’s your pills. Take 2, 3 times a day, see how it goes, and we can reduce later.” I went on esparite on day 2. The colostrum lasted the night, but on day 2 they didn’t have anything. The babies were only on intravenous fluid. The Doctor (Neonatologist) came to seem me that afternoon, and said: “There’s no pressure but you need to make milk, a lot of it.” When he walked in, he said: “I can see you’re on eglanol, because you’re not a melted mess. Usually by this time, Prem Moms are falling apart. You’re okay for now, babies are okay for now. By tomorrow you need to have milk. If by tomorrow you don’t have milk, you have to sign the form for donor milk. From now on, think like a cow.”

I was only allowed to see Amelie and Connor during visiting hours.

On Day 3 the milk came in with a vengeance. I had litres and litres of milk. I would fill up a syringe and run to NICU with it. A nurse asked me at NICU why I didn’t wait for a nurse to come and fetch the milk. I said, “My babies haven’t had milk for 2 days and I don’t like to ask people for favours.” I didn’t know this was against the rules. They have a system, but they didn’t explain it to me. I didn’t know they preferred nurses bringing it in.

The 1st 2 or 3 times I had hand expressed and then started using the pump and got enough milk to make it worth cleaning the pump. I sterilised every part of the pump, every time. This wasn’t easy in hospital. No-one takes you by the hand and leads you through the process. I had to ask for Miltons; I had to ask where I could go to clean the pump. No-one told me at first that I needed to label the milk with my name, babies’ name, date and time. Even though I was a 2nd time mom, this was my first time expressing instead of breastfeeding, and my first encounter with NICU.

I didn’t have containers to transport the milk in. My milk came in fast, the containers got too small very quickly. I went from syringes to 30ml and then 50ml bottles.

One Nurse said, “You must really bring you own bottles. You can buy them at PLIC or Plastics for Africa, for R3.” I’m in hospital! How do I go out and get them? Fortunately, I had a friend in hospital that used to an NICU Nurse and now works at Storks Nest. Avent gives them promotional bottles. She kindly brought some bottles for me.

The milk comes in at Day 3, but so do the hormones, I was so emotional.

No-one explains the rules: “We don’t want you to bring the milk half hour or hour. We want a nurse to bring it in every 3 hours.” They have a system, but no-one explained the system to me. Because the babies had no milk for a day, I wanted to get every drop of milk to NICU as quickly as possible. They were only drinking a few mil’s at a time, but I was afraid of them being without milk again.

I burst into tears when the nurse said I had to buy my own bottles. I said, “I didn’t know. I haven’t had Prem Babies in NICU before.” Incidentally that was the same day I found out about the virus, so I was a mess. And it was the day I got discharged. I was feeling so sad to leave my babies. They are in Blouberg, I’m in Durbanville. I’m too far away from them.

going-home-empty-handed-happyhumanpacifier-comIt’s the worst feeling. I’d been in hospital for 11 days. I left with 2 suitcases, my pillow and no babies. I realised what it must feel like if you lose your baby. You go home empty handed, and also an empty heart. I was so emotional. I called to ask Chris to fetch me. He was waiting for Tristan to wake up from his afternoon nap – for them both to come fetch me. But I couldn’t stand being in hospital any longer, so I asked my Mom to come sit with Tristan until he woke up.

It was so nice to be home with Tristan again, and we could just cuddle and read stories. I felt so far removed from the situation. It doesn’t seem real. It has a lot to do with initial bonding. I hadn’t held them or breastfed them yet. I didn’t go through the birthing process. It felt almost surreal that these babies belong to you. They are just babies lying there in NICU.

For a time it was almost felt like Tristan was my only child again, which didn’t help with the guilt. It’s like you’re in 2 Universes. You’re almost tempted to go back to life as normal but you have to pump every 3 hours, to keep up your milk supply. I got busy with preparing the nursery. Sometimes I pumped every 5 or 6 hours, I became a bit too relaxed about it because sooo much milk in the beginning. If I had a baby at home I would have gotten up every 3 hours to feed (roughly). With Tristan I demand-fed. You have to set your alarm and wake up and pump, and then wash and sterilise. I slept through a few nights where I didn’t pump during the night.

During the day I would go to the hospital, every day at 12, for 3 or 4 hours, because that’s when I was allowed to go see them. My Mom or Chris would fetch Tristan from school. I would only see Tristan at 5pm when I got home and then it was eat, bath and bed. I needed to express first (I could pump at the hospital, but that would mean being in a separate room and I wanted to spend every minute with the babies). Chris has been cooking dinner virtually every night since the babies were born. Tristan got to the point that he didn’t want to be at home with Gran – he knew when I dropped him there, I would leave.

It was difficult for Chris too. He also wanted to spend time with the babies, but he had to take care of Tristan and the house, buy groceries, and cook dinner.

On Day 7 we could hold them for the first time.

Until this time the babies had been on a system called CPAP, which offers breathing resistance to stretch their lungs. Finally their lungs were developed enough for them to breathe on their own.

One thing that helped me during this time was a booklet called “Breastfeeding preemies” published by Medela. I just happened to find in the breastfeeding room. This book should be issued to all Moms with Preemies. It helped me so much.

Let’s chat about that wonderful day when you got to hold your babies for the first time.

Wow… okay.. I’m going to have to send you a picture of that, because that was just… I mean… it was a week after they were born and I got to hold them for the first time. With Tristan I got to hold him straight after birth, but now I had to wait and wait, and, as I said to you before, up until that point they don’t really feel like your babies. Your mind tells you they’re your babies, but your heart is not really connected yet, you haven’t bonded yet. Maybe because they are still supposed to be inside… Then we got to hold them, they still had the feeding tubes in their tummies, so I couldn’t hold both of them together. I had to hold one, and Chris had to hold one.Holding one baby each

It was quite awkward… which one do you want to hold…? Which is going to be the favourite, to be held by Mom first? So, I blocked that from my mind. I don’t actually know which one I held first. And it’s a quite a maneuver then, to hold them, with all these tubes and wires. They were off the CPAP, but they still had other tubes and monitors on them.

They told us to do Kangaroo care with them, they needed skin to skin, and so we would put them under our clothes, and then they just sit there like little monkeys. They were still really tiny, they were hardly a few grams heavier than their birth weight, and they are still curled up. It was absolute bliss… I wanted that moment to never, ever end. I just wanted to sit there forever, holding them. And then I didn’t want to put them back, when we had to leave. We couldn’t swop either, because of all the tubes and wires. The nurses left to give us privacy. They gave each of us a comfy chair and a baby, and without their help, we couldn’t swop them around. So I only got to hold one baby, and then the next day when we went back, I said, I need to swop, I need to swop, I need to hold the other one. That was the second time I held them, and then the third time I went to hold them, Chris was working, so I went by myself and the nurse said, do you want to try hold them together. I said, “Ooh, that would be AWESOME, I would love that.” I had a really big shirt on, and she said, “no, they’re still not going to fit in your shirt.” So she closed the curtain and I took my shirt off, and I just sat there with the both of them.
It was magical and just as I thought, “oh no, there’s no one to take a photo of this moment”, the one nurse came to me and said, “let me take a photo, where’s your phone?” And she started taking photos for me. It was incredible. They were so little, and they kept on sliding off my chest. They’re so tiny, your arms can’t even hold them, so you kind of grip them with the inner part of your biceps, but as you start relaxing, (you know you sit there for an hour, two hours, three hours)… they start slipping. So eventually, I had them kind of half hanging by my side, and I couldn’t pick them back up because I didn’t have a spare hand. I started thinking, “what am I going to do when I take these kids home?” I didn’t think that I would be able to  handle both of them simultaneously. “I don’t know what I’m going to do…”

Over the next couple of days, holding them, you quickly learn that they’re tiny, but they’re not that fragile, and they don’t break, and you get comfortable with them and you handle them more confidently.

Just around that time, the nurses insist that when you’re there, you do everything for them – so you change their diapers, if they need a feed, you give them their feed (a tube feed, so you put the syringe in). Because, up until then, you go in, and visit them, and the nurses do everything and you just

The end goal for the NICU staff is to prepare you to take them home, and for you to have the confidence to take care of their needs at home. But it’s still weird because you almost feel like you have to ask permission for everything that you do. We had a lovely NICU nurse, and she said, “These are your babies, and we are their medical staff, but they are your kids. So while they are here, we take care of all their needs, but if you’re not happy with something, you can say so. Or if you want us to do things differently, or if you bring a special blanket, or a special soft toy, that’s fine – as long as it doesn’t interfere with their medical treatment.

For the first couple of days, they only wore nappies. When one day when I got there, they had clothes on. I then took clothes for them every day, but it’s so weird because every time you go in, your kid’s wearing this crazy outfit. They needed a couple of outfit changes a day, and the nurses ran out of clothes, so they would dress Connor in Amelie’s clothes or Amelie in Connor’s clothes. And if they had nothing left, they would dress them in NICU clothes. I didn’t have that many Prem clothes because I wasn’t prepared. I only had a few pieces, so I’d wash every day, when I came back I’d do a load and take them back.

Side-note: At that point I wasn’t allowed to drive yet, because I’d had a Caesarian. But, it’s also quite a mission to get someone to drive you, because I need someone to drive me from Durbanville, and then wait for me for 4 hours so I could just sit with my kids, and then drive me back. My car’s automatic, so I did drive. It wasn’t a great idea, because I got an infection in my wound. So that was a really stupid thing to do, so I started phoning people, and saying, “You know all those favours you promised me when I was bed rest, I think I need to cash in on that.”

And it’s difficult. You’re in one town, and your babies are somewhere else, and you really just want to get there, and you forget that you need to take care of yourself. It’s all about their needs. And yet you need to, with nutrition, and drinking enough water, I still had to produce milk for them, so I couldn’t neglect my own health.

How long did it take to get over your infection?

Not long. I was at the hospital every day, I just went to see my Doctor, and she withdrew some fluid from the wound. She couldn’t give me an antibiotic, because I was breastfeeding. She was really firm, with me. She said, I know your kids are your priority, but it’s no use they come home from hospital and you’re still in bed. You need to take things slow.

I had Tristan at home. When I got home from hospital we played, I picked him up, things I wasn’t supposed to do. Or we’d go for a walk with the stroller, and you don’t realise how heavy the stroller is, because I’m used to it. Those were all things I had to stop doing.

I kept on asking them, “when can I breastfeed, when I can breastfeed?”, and they explained that their sucking reflex is not yet developed and their jaws aren’t very strong, so they can’t really latch…”

So before that, they start them on bottles. First it was just one feed a day, then 2 feeds a day, 3 feeds a day, they’d get them on a bottle, just so they can learn to suck. I got them dummies right from the beginning, but neither of my twins really wanted to take the dummies. They kept on pulling them out themselves.

Breastfeeding Preemie Twins

At the end of week 2, I came into NICU, and they announced, “today you’re going to breastfeed”. It was such a nice surprise and I was so happy. I started taking my shirt off and the nurses rushed to close the curtain. I was like; “There’s no-one here, let’s just feed them!”

kangaroo care-in-nicu-happyhumanpacifier-comSo they helped me, and got them to latch, and also, in the beginning, I just had one baby at a time. We started with Connor because he was the heavier twin, and he was much stronger. He took the dummy from time to time, and also when they gave him his bottle, he finished his bottle in no time. So we started with him. I’ve waited for this moment for two weeks. It was the best feeling ever. Doing what I should have been doing from the moment they were born – It’s just so awesome to have them, little naked body against you, and they’re just soooo content to be there. I mean, he probably drank like 3 drops, hardly anything, but we sat for 2 hours, just sitting together.

From the first time we could hold them, every visit was skin to skin, they insist on that, even for babies who have parents who live far away. There was one baby there who’s Mom lived in the township and she couldn’t get transport to the hospital that often, so the Doctor instructed his nurse to Kangaroo care. So she would just walk around with him in her shirt the whole day.

So it was really nice for me to see that they recognise the importance of Kangaroo care, skin to skin, and breast milk. As I mentioned previously, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t put the babies together, because that’s supposed to be best for them. And they explained to me they couldn’t do it, because they had to monitor their temperature, breathing, oxygen saturation and various other vitals. So they had to be in separate incubators.

I heard so many stories of doctors/nurses doing what’s easiest for them, but this was not true for this particular unit. They know what they’re doing, and their treatments are on par with recent studies. They know what’s best for their little patients. Moms milk is best, Kangaroo care is best, and smelling Mom and being close to her, is what’s best for baby’s development.

Before we were allowed to hold them, it feels worthless going to sit there for 4 hours because you can’t hold your baby. You just sit in a chair next to them, and I would manage half an hour, an hour… and leave to spend time with Tristan. The babies slept most of the time & I didn’t think they even knew I was there.

But once we could hold them I’d be there for 4 hours, every afternoon. I had to be home again at 5pm for Tristan, and visiting hours only start at 12pm, so 4 hours was the maximum I could do. On the days that Chris couldn’t come with me, I had to do half and half. Two hours with each baby. I wanted them to have maximum skin to skin.

At that point the nurses were still feeding them 3 hourly. So if they had to feed at 12, they would let me in at 11:45. I could give Connor a feed at 12, and they would give Amelie a bottle, and then at 3pm I’d breastfeed Amelie and Connor would get a bottle. So I could only feed each of them once a day. I’d breastfeed them a bit, and then give them their tube feed.

Connor fed really well from the beginning, but Amelie did not manage to latch. It made me feel a bit despondent. But the nurses kept on encouraging me, “this is training for them, this is just practice for them. They just need to be close to your breast, even if they don’t drink anything, just get them used to it.”

Because they would be still in the womb at this point, and getting food kind of intravenously in the womb…

After birth, where they cut the umbilical cord, that’s still an open vein, so they attach their feeding tube to their belly button. They still get fed the way they would have while they were in the womb.

Did you do any finger feeding?

No. It was just tube, bottle and breast. I asked them about nipple confusion, and the nurse I had at that point, was very experienced, and she said to me, “It doesn’t happen, or in her career, it hasn’t happened.” Because it’s not about nipple confusion, it’s about them getting lazy. That’s why it’s important to keep exercising the jaw, but because they’re so little, even bottle feeding is hard work for them.

That put my mind at ease, because I didn’t want to bottle feed them. She said, “you’re not going to have a problem, don’t worry about this.” (And she was right).

Tandem Nursing Twins

So we did that a couple of times, and she asked me if I’d like to try and feed them together. I was so excited. Since I found out I was pregnant with twins, it was my dream is to tandem feed them! And I’ve been reading so much about it, and doing so much research, and I’ve got my imported breastfeeding pillow…”. Whilst pregnant, I heard about the ‘My Brest Friend’ breastfeeding pillow. They were very expensive and I could not find a pre-loved one. A friend of mine then brought me one from Dubai. I was so excited to finally use it.  And then the pillow was waaay too big for the little chair that I had to feed them in, and the nurse said, “no, no, your very fancy expensive pillow is not going to work, let’s just put them on a normal pillow.” And so they helped me to prop them up and to latch them. Again they hardly did any drinking, it was just so nice to sit there with both of them and just hold them.

every-twin-moms-dream-tandem-feeding happyhumanpacifier.comAnd did they get a photo of that?

Yes. But they’re all very poor quality photos. It’s very dark in NICU and you’re not allowed to use a flash because their eyes are still very immature. So all our photos are dark… but at least we have the memories.

How long before you were able to actually get them out of the hospital and breastfeed them yourself, because it’s still hard… it’s still really, really tough, you’re still having to go there for hours, leave Tristan at home…

Yes, and express like crazy when I was at home.

Eventually, later on, they’d let me quickly feed Connor, then quickly feed Amelie, so we got them on 2 feeds each at a visit. And I would express in between at the hospital.

They were scheduled for discharge on the 31st of December. On the 30th, I had to spend the night in the hospital, just so that they could make sure I know how to handle them on my own. Effective feeding is the main priority. They were still so tiny and could not afford to lose any weight. Because they’re so small, they pick up weight in grams and they get weighed every single day. The Neonatologist, Dr. Ricky Dippenaar, said to me, they have to pick up weight the night that they room in with me, because if their weight drops, then they keep them there for another day.

Amelie has not yet reached 2kg and that was her target weight for discharge. So there was a lot of pressure that they have to pick up weight that day.

They book you back into the maternity ward, and they assign a nurse from NICU to you. They come and check up on you, but you don’t get a nurse from the maternity ward since you’re not a patient.

So you’re really just there, in a room, on your own, with these two little people, and they’re on breathing monitors. Amelie had the habit to stopping breathing. And her monitor would scream a few times that night. I almost had a heart attack every single time. She’s not breathing! That thing sounds like a fire alarm… everyone in the ward knew when my baby stopped breathing. But it’s just a few seconds, and then she takes a breath and sleeps further.

I kind of hit a bit of a wobble there, because I had all these expectations. When I tried to feed them, they wouldn’t really drink, well, not much.

They had milk for me in NICU (my expressed milk), but the Head Nurse there instructed the Nurse that was taking care of me, to not bring me the bottled milk. (I didn’t know this at the time). She told the nurse that I had to breast feed. But they wouldn’t really drink, or they’d have a few sips and then scream because they’re hungry. So I stressed, and then I’d have two screaming babies, and I had no idea what to do, and none of the nurses in the maternity ward paid any attention to me, because they knew the drill.

Luckily, I took my breast pump with me and I had two sterilised bottles in my bag. So when they wouldn’t drink properly, I put them down – these two screaming babies – and I grabbed the electric pump and I just started expressing milk. I gave each of them a bottle of milk, and they slept. And I was like, okay… now, 3 hours to go before we repeat this exercise.

I had to then go and wash the bottles, sterilise the bottles, and I didn’t know where to go, and I didn’t want to leave the babies alone. So I left them for a second and I ran to reception. My room was the furthest from reception, so I ran and cried, “You need to come help me, you need to come help me”, and the nurses just laughed. One of the nurses gave me an ice cream container and some Miltons and showed me where I could wash the bottles, and luckily it was just across from my room, so when the babies slept I could quickly wash and sterilise the bottles.

I expressed milk before they woke up for their next feed. I tried breastfeeding first with every feed, and when they failed to feed, I gave them their bottles. I did not sleep much that night. Chris didn’t sleep over with me, because he had to stay with Tristan, so I was on my own with these two babies the whole night. I can say, without a doubt, it was the worst night of my life.

I cried so much that night, I can’t do this, I just want to go home, at least if I was at home I would have Chris there, or I could call my mom. This was torture, I don’t know why they’re doing this to me, I don’t know why I have to stay in hospital… I was just really not happy to be there.

breastfeeding in nicu happyhumanpacifier.comThen the next morning, when the shift changed, a nurse from NICU walked in and brought me two bottles of milk. The nurse in charge of the morning shift at NICU had a different opinion, and she sent me the bottles immediately. I asked her why she didn’t bring me any milk the night before? Why didn’t anyone bring me milk? Because I knew I had milk in the freezer at NICU. She said to me they were instructed to not bring me milk. That made me furious. Because it wasn’t something that was discussed with me. I felt like I was being treated like a child…it was like, there you go, write your exam, and see if you can take your kids home.

I don’t believe it’s the hospital’s policy, it was just this particular nurse. I was expecting someone to come in with bottles for me every 3 hours. I was quite upset about that.

Dr. Dippenaar said to me before, he won’t discharge just one baby, because it’s too stressful on the Mom, because now you have a baby at home, and a baby in the hospital that you need to breastfeed. You can’t just come sit with one for 4 hours and leave the other one at home. And you can’t bring a baby from outside into the NICU. Although some hospitals do it, and some Doctors are okay with it, he wasn’t. He feels it’s not helpful for the baby, and it’s not helpful for the mother. He is an amazing doctor.

Then the nurse said, “now we need to weigh the babies”, and I was praying so hard, “please, please, please, they need to…”, and they had each picked up weight, and Amelie was exactly, exactly 2 kilo’s, and that was what she needed to be in order to be discharged. And she said, here’s their discharge papers, you can take your babies home.

Connor was never a concern. He was born at 2.1kg, but with all the crying that Amelie did the night before, I was convinced that she was going to lose weight. The nurses warned me, that because she’s so small, when she cries, she uses so much energy, that her weight could drop. So now, you’ve got to keep this baby from crying, because she’s going to lose weight.

Aw, the desperation! That must have been awful…

I know. It was. It was the worst day of my life.

The babies were on a lot of medication at this time. On discharge, they bring you all the medication and instruct you how to give it. On that particular day they had a huge emergency. Two Moms had delivered Prem babies during the night, and they were severely understaffed, so the poor Nurse who had to take care of me for the day, was running around like crazy. She had to get everything in NICU sorted, and then still me, so they really just wanted me to check out.

“Here are your papers, here’s your medicine, BYE!” I noticed that I was still missing clothes and bottles and dummies. The nurse continued to run back and forth to NICU and eventually, the third time she came back, I said, “Don’t you just want me to come over there and fetch everything, because I know what I’m looking for”. We couldn’t leave the babies, and because they were still patients, I wasn’t allowed to push the cribs across the hall. So we had to get another nurse to help us get these two babies over to NICU for me to go find all my stuff. I’m sure they were quite relieved when we left…

Read more… Go to Tandem Nursing Twins

We celebrated and honoured Melinda’s tremendous tenacity at our World Prematurity Day Event

8 Replies to “Breastfeeding in NICU”

  1. ClaireW

    Lauren, that was an absolutely riveting story. I could not stop reading. I never had prem babies, and I was never more grateful for that than after reading your post. Not because I’m in judgement, actually the complete opposite! I don’t know if I would have handled it quite so well. I’m a South African living in New Zealand, so it was also nice to read about some familiar places. 🙂 Thanks for a lovely post, and amazing website! You are doing a great job!

    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Hi Claire, greetings from Sunny South Africa! Do you miss home? Thanks so much for your awesome comments. I was also fortunate in that my son was born almost a week overdue. My heart goes out to Moms with Prem babies. Really happy to hear you enjoyed this interview and our website.

  2. teresa

    Hi Lauren,
    I love your story! My firstborn was in the NICU, just for 4 nights with tachypnea but it was torture! I had to pump for the first three nights and then they finally let me start breastfeeding him. I can’t imagine what it was like with twins and for them to be in NICU for so long.
    I have to say – I can’t tell but I feel like maybe you’re not from the US? My NICU experience was so different. I can’t believe they only let you visit certain times of the day. I was permitted to be there whenever I wanted to. Only one additional visitor at a time and of course, we couldn’t visit if we were sick. But I’m sorry, no one is going to tell me I can’t sit with my baby for skin to skin bonding whenever I want to. And telling you to buy your own bottles? That’s unheard of here. So interesting to read about different experiences!
    Glad your babies are healthy and home. 🙂

    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Hi Teresa, thank you for your awesome comments on Melinda’s story! Wow, sounds like your NICU policies are much kinder to Moms. You are right, Melinda is not in the US, she lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

  3. Indasa

    What an amazing story. What an amazing woman Melinda is! I breastfed both my children. I understand the difficulty with a Cesaerean and having to follow rules. I was driving when I should not have been also…because my oldest had some type infection while at her dad’s house. I was too weak to care for her at the time. I cannot imagine the emotion with twins!

    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Aw, Indasa, thanks for your heartfelt comments, and for sharing some of your own story. Appreciate hearing from you.

  4. Katie

    Oh my goodness, what a wonderful and emotional story. I just cant imagine the emotions you must have gone through! I used to work in a hospital in peds and would sometimes go over to the NICU and I just couldn’t do it. It is too emotional. I know it can be so frustrating dealing with the way Dr.’s and nurses act sometimes too, but I think many times they are just as stressed and don’t want anything bad to happen to your precious babies. Well congrats and what an amazing story you have. Thank you for sharing!

    • Lauren Kinghorn Post author

      Aah, Katie. Thanks for your lovely comment. I will let Melinda know how much you enjoyed her story.


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