For many of us, breastfeeding can be a bit of a challenge. Milk production can be an issue, especially if you have insufficient glandular tissue. Your baby may have trouble latching on properly or the act of breastfeeding might be particularly painful for you. Maybe you're a survivor of sexual assault who has chosen to breastfeed, but you're struggling with past memories and triggers. Honestly, for as beautiful as breastfeeding is, it can be so difficult and exhausting and debilitating. It’s (arguably) even more challenging when your baby is born prematurely or sick and winds up spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. Babies in the NICU are frequently intubated, meaning they’ll be hooked up to machines that breathe for them and feed them and sustain them. And honestly, there’s nothing harder than seeing your baby inside an isolette and feeling completely powerless to help them.
As any good NICU nurse will tell you, (thankfully) there is plenty for you to do while you wait for baby to get stronger and healthier and less dependent on machines. One way is by pumping breastmilk for your baby while you wait for your breastfeeding opportunity to arrive. I remember, all too well, when my son was in NICU; his nurse would constantly reassure me that “every drop counts.” Even while I was desperate to produce more milk and barely coming up with a few milliliters, my son's nurse would still take my breast milk and mix it with his formula so that he would, at the very least, get some of the vitamins and other nutrients that are only found in breast milk. Not all moms have this kind of trouble, but even if you’re producing a lot, you can still use a hand if you’re a NICU mom that’s breastfeeding (especially because, chances are, you’re having to pump at least part of the time).
Pregnant mamas and new mamas should print this one out and hand it to their loved ones. Friends and family members of NICU moms should use these 12 ways to help out these struggling, powerful and steadfast mothers, because when my son was in the NICU and I was trying to properly breastfeed him, I was thankful for every second of support I received.