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NICU Moms Benefit From More Breastfeeding Support

Human Milk BottlesAugust is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. It may seem odd to some that we need a designated month to promote something as natural as breastfeeding. But the truth is, breastfeeding is not always easy nor does it always feel natural. From low milk supply to engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis, new moms can face many challenges and need information, support and guidance to ensure the baby is latching on correctly, feeding regularly and maintaining a healthy growth pattern.

It can take many months before moms of babies born preterm or with special health care needs are able to exclusively breastfeed their baby. We rely on breast pumps with the suction power of industrial grade vacuum cleaners to express our milk. We agonize over every ounce collected and we are rarely seen without the hospital-issued cooler bag that protects our liquid gold.

We cling to the hope that one day soon our baby will have the strength and coordination to latch on, and remember to suck, swallow and breathe. We fantasize about ridding ourselves of nipple shields and breast shells, and about breastfeeding our babies at 1 am while softly singing lullabies. Until then, we keep pumping. We practice Kangaroo Care and we wait patiently for the green light to put our baby to the breast.

Both my micro-preemie and my late preterm baby struggled with breastfeeding. It took my son more than five months to breastfeed exclusively and my daughter struggled with jaundice because she was not taking enough milk. Both experiences required me to seek the support of professional lactation consultants who not only helped me master the perfect football hold but more importantly provided the encouragement and reassurance I needed to keep trying. I was lucky because I did eventually get to exclusively breastfeed and I cherish those memories and am grateful for the experience.

While breastfeeding is instinctual, it is not without challenges, especially for NICU moms. During this important awareness month, I pause to honor the many NICU moms Hand to Hold supports who are unable to breastfeed, which happens more commonly than one might expect. We are extremely lucky that donor milk from nonprofit milk banks is widely available by prescription for NICU babies and are grateful to all the moms who donate their extra breastmilk to make that possible. We also salute lactation consultants, dietitians and NICU nurses who provide the extra support NICU moms need to ensure the best start for our babies.

With Appreciation,

Kelli Kelley Signature 
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director

More Good Stuff

The Benefits of Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo with DadFamily Support Navigator Jennifer Beatty, MSW shares the benefits of Kangaroo Care, a type of developmental care that parents can participate in the care of their infant in the NICU and long beyond.

FB Chat: Turning Your Everyday into Speech and Language Play

Lisa Rukovena, MA, CCC-SLPBilingual Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist Lisa Rukovena, MA, CCC-SLP from RiverKids Pediatric Home Health answered questions and shared tips to help families make the most of everyday opportunities and play to help children advance their speech, language and oral skills.

{Professional Insight} Milk Donation, Preemies and You

Kim UpdegroveKim Updegrove, Executive Director of the Mothers' Milk Bank of Austin, explains how nonprofit milk banks operate, their many benefits for NICU babies and how lactating moms can get involved to help increase the milk supply available for babies in need.

Kim & Wynne: Finding Simple Joys in Preemie Parenthood

Kim JKim and Wynne, both preemie mothers, were paired up by Hand to Hold to offer one another support during their parenting journey with their preemies. Together, they have found a safe place to be heard, to honor their unique journey, and to find inspiration in precious moments caring for their children.

Join Team Hand to Hold in the 2014 Austin Marathon

Dave with JadaAre you a runner and are you passionate about helping us support more NICU families in honor of amazing, resilient children? Join Team Hand to Hold at the upcoming Austin Marathon, Half Marathon to be held February 16, 2014. Run for the cause and help us raise awareness and funding to benefit families of all NICU babies. 

An Interview With a Preemie Sibling

Mathews SiblingsKasey Mathews, mom of a 25 weeker and termie, interviews her son, now age 15, about his sister's early birth. She wanted to learn what he remembered and what sort of long-lasting impact he felt his sister's premature birth had on his life and what future parents should know. 

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Stay Informed

FB Chat: Parents and Kids Checklist for Managing Back to School Stress  

Dina O'BrienHand to Hold will hold a Facebook Chat on its Facebook Wall on August 28 from 12:00p-1:00p CT featuring Pediatric Psychologist and NICU mom Dina O'Brien, PhD. She shares her best advice and answers questions about reducing anxiety (for your child and you!) when starting preschool, entering kindergarten, or going back to school. Read more.

NICU Heroes Award Selected!

NICU Heroes Award

The results are in! After much deliberation, a panel of parents and professionals selected Pennsylvania neonatologist Gerard Cleary, DO, as the inaugural NICU Heroes Award Winner. An awards luncheon will take place next month, and we look forward to sharing his story and the stories of our amazing finalists, too. The award program is sponsored jointly by Hand to Hold and Mead Johnson Nutrition.

Support a Fellow NICU Family

Hands of supportHelping Hand Peer Mentor - Volunteer to support a fellow NICU family no matter where you live. Receive your training online.

Thanks to Our Superior Strength Preemie Power Sponsors!


St. David's Healthcare

Preemie Power Super Heroes

CarterMeet Carter, who was born at 26 weeks and spent 103 days in the NICU. Now 8 months old, his mom shares: "My little superhero endured 103 days on the NICU rollercoaster. He is now 8 months old and just as strong as ever! Carter continues to make progress each day and is fighting hard to get rid of the oxygen, apnea monitor, and meds - to be tube-free!" Be inspired by more Preemie Power Super Heroes.

For Healthcare Providers

MilesHand to Hold offers two resources exclusively for NICU health professionals. Hand to Hold's NICU Resource Library, a collection of health literacy compliant articles are available for immediate download in English and Spanish. Designed to grow, this subscription-based service complements hospital-based Family-Centered Care practices. We also offer brochures, posters, newsletters and fliers to help healthcare professionals connect families to the free support Hand to Hold offers. 

Past Issues

Read more Hand to Hold Supporter Updates.

   About Hand to Hold
Hand to Hold logoHand to Hold is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. 

Hand to Hold - www.handtohold.org - 855-H2H-NICU

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