It can be a challenging time in many ways to have your baby placed in the NICU. It wasn’t the new beginning you hoped for. Here are a few things you can do to that can make a difference:
1) Breast milk is a powerful gift for babies in general, and all the more so for babies who start life in the NICU. If possible, it’s well worth the effort (for your baby’s health and for your own).
2) Many babies in the NICU can’t feed by mouth yet. Others can take oral feeds, but aren’t strong enough to nurse. Others could nurse but need extra fortification mixed with their feeds. In all of these situations, start pumping and saving breast milk as soon as practical.
3) Ask to see a lactation consultant, even if you’re not ready to start pumping or nursing. This could easily fall through the cracks in a NICU, so don’t wait, ask. They’ll be glad you did. (So will you and your baby!)
4) Be sure the containers you use to store and feed breast milk are free of BPA and phthalates — like all of the products made by BornFree. This goes for the pump and tubing too. BPA and phthalates act like hormones. No one benefits from being exposed, but this is especially true for vulnerable babies.
5) Hold your baby when you can, as appropriate. Skin-to-skin contact is even better. Sometimes the only contact may be a brush of your finger, but even that can be powerful.
6) Get the rest, food, support, help you need for yourself. You deserve it. And it will help your baby too. Airplane instructions remind us, in the event of an emergency, to put on our own masks first, and then help our children. This wisdom applies to the NICU. First taking care of yourself helps your baby (and your milk supply) in many ways.
These NICU days may seem very long right now, but they will end and soon become a memory. Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of these unrepeatable moments.
Note: Dr. Greene teamed up with BornFree in September of 2008 to help teach families about important issues concerning BPA, phthalates, and PVC.
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