|By: JC Diamond|
|Providing breast milk for a premature baby can
be a very rewarding thing to do. The pumping needed to do that on the other hand, is often
fraught with frustration, discouragement and intimidation. First off there is the inherent
stress that rises from having a premature, hospitalized baby. Then, facing that pump day
session after session, is daunting, especially when it seems as though you
will never actually get to nurse the baby at your own breast. Often times, mothers of very
small or sick infants can not actually nurse for quite a while. Adding to all this
frustration and stress, mothers find that the amount of milk they can pump begins to
decrease after several weeks. This is completely normal since a pump..even a hospital
grade pump can not stimulate milk production as efficiently as a strongly nursing baby,
but it is very discouraging and upsetting
"I was always worried about having enough for both of my babies." (Nancy mom to 31 week twins)
"I could see it diminishing and I was feeling very inadequate. I was frustrated and upset that it would take so much effort to maintain what little supply I had left. I was exhausted and pumping through the night was not an option if I was going to be able to keep working and going to the hospital every day" (Kathy, mom to 25 weeker)
As supply decreases, mothers start frantically turning EVERYWHERE for what to do to bring up their supply. Now, armed with all this "advice" the pumping mom tries them all and invariably begins to feel like this:
"I was getting sick of hearing the same thing: drink plenty of liquids..eat right..drink right..relax (right)..massage look at picture of baby (made me cry)..pump every two hours..every three hours, every four hours, pump at night..sleep through the night..I was ready to throw the pump out the window"
Most books on breastfeeding are woefully inadequate in their coverage of the special needs of premature babies, and when they do the common line is : if you keep pumping your supply WILL increase. This is just not always true. The information presented for premature babies is lackluster at best. Very few of the books mention in any detail the stress and the supply problems one might encounter. Those books that do have sections on premature babies only focus on "successes" and that is highly subjective. This adds to the guilt and frustration when try what you may, you can not get supply to equal demand.
|What worked for you?
"I found I needed to drink a large glass of water immediately after pumping to maintain my supply. Liquids and adequate rest were the most important things for me" (Nancy 31 week twins)
"What worked was pumping really regularly, eating healthy food throughout the day, taking fenugreek capsules when my supply dropped and putting the baby to breast either on his own or with the SNS." (Maureen, Mom to 33 weeker)
"Frequent pumping helps a lot. Fenugreek capsules were great as was frequent drinking, trying to eat well and getting some sleep. Frequent nursing also makes a big difference" (Mara , 30.5 week twins)
"I tried Fenugreek, an herb that smells like maple syrup and makes your milk smell like maple syrup too. The lactation consultant recommended it to me. My supply, which was less than 2 oz total out of both breasts at each pumping, doubled in three days" (Melissa, mom to 30 weeker)
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