Friday, May 16, 2014

Wires & probes & tubes OH MY! Nursing in the NICU

Nursing in NICU!!!

Becks was induced for labor as a preemie (37 weeks gestation but preemie developmentally). We knew the risks for him but my health was spiraling down & he had started to grow less each week. I had imagined the most beautiful delivery with perfect kangaroo time & immediate nursing. I even told visitors we would need a while together so he could nurse & learn to latch before he saw anyone. That was far from reality for us. 

After 10 hours of labor my little prince joined us in the world but without a cry. This my friends was the most terrifying moment in my lifetime...luckily just a second later he began to make the most pitiful little cry I ever heard but I loved the sound. His dad & I each got just a few minutes to hold him while they cleaned him. The doctors & nurses said he was struggling to catch his breath so to the NICU he went while I went to my own room to rest & heal; of course I required the nurse roll my hospital bed into the NICU so I could see him immediately!

The nurses helped me pump to get my flow going. I got a whopping 2mL ha! But for a first pump I was told it was great. As soon as I was able to stand alone I began my trips downstairs (NICU) (where I spent most of my time the next 6 days!). I am sure the nurses hated me because this is when I began the rules for my little one! YES they are cared for by a doctor but what you say goes so stand up for what you want for your child!

1.) NO BOTTLES, NO NIPPLES etc. If they had to give him my milk for me then it needed to be done with a syringe. I didn't want to ruin the moment of his first latch from the beginning.
2.) NO FORMULA! I would sacrifice sleep, seeing people, peeing, eating etc. to be down there at every feeding for as long as he required me to stay! 

The next morning lactation came to assist us & he did great! It look about 45 minutes to situate the wires & find our comfy spot but we figured it out! Super powerful suck & big latch! Since this moment he has wanted to be attached to mommy 24/7!! This was the second most inspirational moment in my life! Getting him out of the bassinet with all those wires every few hours was exhausting for him, the nurses, and me, but I know getting Mommy milk into him was the best thing to make him stronger!

I decided I was going to be by his side for every moment of his journey & with BF I had to be there every 3 hours. So with a 30 minute to 1 hour feeding time I had about 1.5 hours to take a shower, nap, eat, etc. I asked the nurse to get me a sleeping recliner beside his bed-space & this was my lifesaver! Many times after he would eat we would fall asleep doing kangaroo time together. I was helping him get stronger while also getting a little bit of sleep. This is a must for mothers who want to nurse in NICU! When visitors came to visit I did not let it change our routine... I was shirtless & boobs were at his easy access (mommy gone wild?? hehe). This was priority to me over people holding him although I loved their support & love!

Once I was discharged as a patient there was no way I was leaving my baby at the hospital alone & luckily the hospital let us "rent" a room kind of like a hotel so I could stay there with him. Although I think I only used it as a place to store my stuff & take a shower because my baby needed my boob! But if you can get a room do it; it's so much easier then traveling to your house or a hotel.

After a few days I was exhausted but God's gift of adrenaline kept me going! By day 4 I needed sleep & Dad wanted to feed him so I broke my no bottle rule. I pumped & Dad fed for a few times a day. I don't regret this because that sleep was refreshing and didn't affect his latch at all! Also I realized this day that since you can't have food in NICU I was only eating 1 time a day. DON'T do this as calories are crucial for good fatty milk!

The last night we were there I was able to stay in the NICU mothers sleep in room & have Becks with me. It was great practice for when we went home while still having the nursing staff & his monitors connected for my piece of mind! I was able to lay in the bed to feed him & I didn't even know this type of room existed until the doctor offered it!

Our 6 day breastfeeding in NICU journey was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done but with lots of special requests I was able to make it successfully. If you ever have to have this experience just know you can ask for anything to make nursing easier & most hospitals are very supportive of BF!

Here is what you need in the NICU bed-space:
cell phone/camera
nursing stool
sleeping recliner
zipper jacket to wear in between feedings
someone to talk to
feeding/pee/poop log book

What to request:
  • a room in hospital
  • mothers sleep in room
  • your meds & food be delivered to NICU by your nurse 
  • schedule your personal check-ins with your nurse/doctor at the same time each day so you can be in your room for them  
  •  more diapers (hide them to take home!)

How did your delivery & hospital stay affect your breastfeeding relationship? 
What made it easier for you?
What rules did you have set that you decided to break?


  1. I struggled the same Tiff! I had Gavin at 36 weeks. He was in the NICU for 12 days. The first 24 hours, I wasn't able to see him due to my medical issues. I had to rely on pumping the first 24 hours. My first pump was great, then I went dry for 1 1/2 days. :( I think the whole experience ruined BF for me. He would never nurse. More like use me for a pacifier! Frustrating but I was able to pump so at least he was drinking breast milk. That is until he had a bad case of acid reflux and colic. I had to completely take him off of breast milk and put him on a sensitive formula. :( Maybe BF and I will have a better relationship with the next one!

    1. Mrs Russ I hate hearing of your struggles! I am glad your not giving up with your next one! You will hear more of our journey as I continue to post but we struggle daily! Be strong with your next it only gets easier!

  2. I am the same with you Mrs. Russ! I had a C-section...and like you, Tiffany, I was praying to hear him cry out like you see most babies do on tv shows, movies, etc. Guess what? Noah didn't! He was blue completely. He finally coughed/cried out and it was a really weak one! They immediately put him on oxygen. The nurses let me and my hubby-to-be give Noah a kiss then he was off to the NICU. Noah was in the NICU for 5 days, but unfortunately, I was in the hospital for myself for that long. The first 24 hours, I wasn't able to see him because of my medical issues.I wasn't able to nurse for the first 24 hours. Noah wasn't able to eat anything for the first 2 days. They could give him a little bit of formula through a syringe. I did however pump my breast milk to try and start the process. Like you, Tiffany, I got about 1 mL of breast milk! I felt like it was pathetic, but the nurses all cheered me on! They thought it was great! I continued to pump. I would go down to visit Noah in the NICU, but I was struggling with high BP and anything else you could think of! I was having to be in my room a lot for them to test my BP, take medicine, etc. I still tried though to pump as much as I could. I wanted my baby to have all the nutrition that he could get! When I was down in the NICU, the nurses would try to help him get latched on, but he resisted. He was already used to the bottle nipple because I was unable to be down with him at all times! I rented a pump from the hospital after we were both discharged and tried to pump even at home. Long story short...I returned the pump to the hospital because Noah had to be put on a sensitive formula! His stomach is a lot stronger now, but he had a rough start! He's now 8 months old, eats baby food and rice cereal at night/mornings! He's doing great! Maybe BF will be better friends with the next one! :)