Hi, I need some NICU success stories for a friend! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 09-17-2004, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I would love to hear sucessful BFing stories from mamas who had babies in NICU. My best friend was planning to nurse her baby, but the NICU nurses keep insisting he drink so many oz of formula. He is full term, so no complications there, and is latching on just fine. My friend is trying to pump and nurse as much as possible, but it's going to get more difficult to be there every 2-3 hours if she is released tonight, and he is not. I would love to give her a copy of some sucessful BFing stories! Hopefully she will speak w/ a LC soon, and the NICU nurses will let up on the poor little guy.
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#2 of 6 Old 09-17-2004, 07:09 PM
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My ds was born 1/20/01 full term but not receiving oxygen in his blood. He had pulmonary hypertension in the newborn - it can kill adults in two years, but infants beat it (gotta love that). Anyway, he was on a vent for three weeks, mainly due to some careless nurse and doctor error and then put on gavage (sp?) feedings. He was only receiving my pumped breastmilk and I was adamant about being the "first nipple" placed in his mouth. The first day he refused. The second day he refused. The third day he refused. But it gets better. He was given additional fluids via his IV since he was to fast before a big test, but they kept cancelling it long after he hadn't eatten for over 12 hours. Finally the second time they did this, before the OT showed up with his bottle, I took him from his crib (he was off the vent by then and it was on his one month birthday) and put him to the breast. He nursed like a champ. He never looked back. Best of all, he never had any level of nipple confusion.

Also his LC at the hospital was very supportive. They were there for each of the times that he refused before, but it was just me and him when he decided to latch. I nursed him until he decided he had enough and THEN I went to tell the LC. All the nurses kept saying he still needed supplementing to be sure that he's getting enough (and sometimes I did) but he usually didn't take the bottle there nor at home.

I HTH. Tell your friend to get a good LC ASAP. That is the most important person outside of her and her precious baby.
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#3 of 6 Old 09-17-2004, 07:51 PM
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Our premie arrived 7 weeks early weighing 4 lbs and had ongoing breathing problems and some heart related issues.
The first time I took expressed milk to him, the nurse scoffed at the small amount and sent me back to try again. fortunately he was baby #3 so I was not completely undone.
He was totally bottle fed my milk for 31 days- NO moms allowed in the nursery. He was 5.5 lbs on release and I was warned he would tire too easily if I bf him but he knew just what to do and had no nipple confusion. I did sneak in an extra ounce of expressed milk at each daytime feeding until I saw he was gaining well. 16 pounds at 6 months on just Mom's milk. At one year heart was fine too.
The nurses take orders from doctor so your MOm needs to get some re bf or at least offering her milk. Formula can be very risky for delicate babies and pose life long health issues. Several times extras help fed my ds some formula and read the chart later. He developed milk allergies at a year and doctor felt they were related to the early exposure to formula. This could actually be cause for a law suit so pushy nurses had better be careful. There are some very positive stories posted on breastfeeding.com home page re life in NICU...
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#4 of 6 Old 09-18-2004, 01:41 AM
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Hi Free Thinker,

My son was born 12 weeks early. He also had a serious intestinal blockage that required surgery at 12 days old. So, he wasn't ready to eat for quite a while. At first, he was just fed by an NG tube (directly into his tummy). Then, they had me try him breastfeeding. At first, he was just being given the experience. After a week of that, they started trying bottle feeding. Since he was in the NICU a total of 13 weeks, and since I lived 30 miles away and have 2 other children (I am a SAHM), I could only usually make it down 2-3 times a day. So, he had to learn to eat another way.

Meanwhile, I pumped. And pumped, and pumped. ;-) I'll be honest...it hurt, and it was ridiculous. The first night at home, I tried to slink into our den to pump in some privacy. My children followed me in, and ended up pulling up their little chairs and watching, like it was a prime time event. ;-) But, gradually my supply increased, and having this be baby #3 was really helpful. First, my body remembered, and my milk came easily. But, more importantly, I KNEW what it was like to breastfeed, I knew it was worth just about any sacrafice to do it.

I didn't follow all the directions perfectly. I rested the first day, I didn't start pumping until the next. And even then, I was in the hospital and it was hard. At home, I spent so much time going back and forth, sometimes too much time would pass between pumping. But, I did the best I could, and it was enough.

The NICU staff was wonderful. They referred to every little tiny vial I brought in at first as "liquid gold". They always asked if I needed help, brought me juice when I was with the baby, offered to get me a screen and a pump so I could pump beside the baby instead of having to leave, and were very encouraging. My baby only ever got my breastmilk. At 2 pounds, his intake was really important, so they'd have me weigh him on a super-accurate (to the gram) baby scale, nurse, weigh him again, then they'd add expressed milk to his tube to make up the difference between what he nursed, and what the docs said he needed.

But, it was still hard. He really struggled with reflux, with bottle feeding, and some days I did wonder if I'd ever be able to fully breastfeed. I thought their feeding amounts were too much, and he vomited frequently. Twice, nurses fed him right before I came for a feeding, which is so frustrating.

However, I'm happy to report that after a week of adjusting from breast and bottle to being home, he became 100% exclusively breastfed. He's still a champion nurser. Tell your friend that several rough MONTHS did not take this away from my baby and I, and a few days or weeks can also certainly be overcome for her. If she's tired and exhausted, rest. Let them supplement the baby, just get him home as soon as possible. It will be fixed when she can feed on demand, round the clock. Yes, she should pump as much as possible, but if she needs to rest, she should be gentle with herself. We all have an ideal of how we'd like to care for our baby, but in this case, nature gets trumped, and we just have to adjust. Tell her to hang in there...she'll have that baby home, and all will be well.

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#5 of 6 Old 09-18-2004, 01:47 AM
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I so needed someone to tell me this after dd came home from the NICU. She was in the NICU for 7 excrutiating days after a forceps delivery, preeclampsia....Honestly, it was absolutely ridiculous, but I'll spare you the horrible whys and wherefores.

The NICU staff was so incredibly unsupportive of breastfeeding and I felt absolutely powerless, no matter what I said to whom, to prevent their destructive patterns. I pumped, pumped, pumped. It was exhausting to recover from my difficult pregnancy and delivery and travel back and forth from the hospital and pump. DD came home addicted to the bottles/pacifiers she was given, against my express written wishes.

How is this supportive? I though I would never be able to breastfeed. I HAD to give her bottles so she would eat. Spoons, SNS, anything I tried, everything suggested failed. But I kept pumping so she got breast milk and I kept searching for an answer. I found a lactation consultant in a city 2 hours away who literally solved our problems in 1 visit. I seemed absolutely miraculous (and I still send her Christmas cards). The whole difficult month she spent on bottles I kept asking everyone I talked to, is this even possible? Do babies on the bottle this long every breast feed? Am I exhausting myself physically and emotionally in an impossible search?

The answer is YES, it can be done and you and baby will be so happy and healthy together.

Good luck and good vibes to you and baby!
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#6 of 6 Old 09-18-2004, 11:05 PM
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Breastfeeding can definitely succeed, even after a rocky start in the NICU!

My story is not nearly so hard as the mamas who have already posted, but it was hard enough. DS was born full-term in a birthing center, but his respirations were very high the first night and he wouldn't latch (which in hindsight I blame on the deep suctioning he got on my perineum when my waters had meconium staining). Rapid respirations can be a sign of infection so we got transferred to the NICU the next morning. We were there for 4 days while they ruled out infections, meconium aspirations, etc. The whole time he was on a glucose IV, so not all that hungry, and his very small mouth plus the rapid respirations made it very difficult for him to latch. So I had to bring my milk in by pumping.

He still wasn't nursig well when we brought him home. He'd had bottles in the NICU (had to get a certain amount into him to get him home) as well as pacifiers (which I wasn't going to deny him given all the trauma with IVs, etc.). The NICU nurses were OK but pretty darn BF ignorant - they had no idea how to help effectively. The hospital LC was totally unavailable.

***Number one piece of advice for your friend -- have her find her own LC (IBLCL certified) to come in and help her and advocate for her.*****

Anyway, it took us a reallllly long time to get to exclusive breastfeeding - between 2 and 3 months (closer to 3 I think but honestly it's a blur now). Pumping is NO FUN. Having a baby who won't latch and screams for the bottle is NO FUN. Having friends and family who just don't get why you won't quit and go to formula is NO FUN. But we stuck it out through mastitis, thrush, cracked nipples, etc. - because I knew how important it was to ds and to me. And we made it! With the help of some good LCs, the support of my dh and my mom, and the help of these boards. DS is 2 and still going strong - he's a BF addict! Although it was so hard for a long time, over time it just got easier and easier until one day we succeeded, and we've never looked back.

Your friend just needs to do what she needs to do right now to get through this hard time and to get her baby healthy and home. It's so tough when the NICU staff are unsupportive (the nurses told me I shouldn't hold my baby too much because he needed to sleep by himself to get better. Yeah, right.) Even if her baby never nurses in the hospital, it is NOT too late to breastfeed - with the help of a good LC, it is more than possible!

I hope she will come here - we will support her and help her in every way we can!

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