The Power of Breast Milk for a Micro-Preemie
My micropreemie has officially gained 100 pounds! When he was in the NICU, our very sweet NICU nurses and staff would make Jackson cute little hand-made signs out of construction paper and affix them to his incubator each time he gained a pound. I vividly remember the day I walked in and saw from a distance the first sign on his incubator that read, “Hip, Hip Hooray….Jackson weighs 2 pounds today!” He was almost a month old when he hit that first milestone.
There was very little I could do to help care for my tiny, medically fragile child during his first few weeks of life. But I knew providing breast milk was the most important thing I could do to ensure his continued growth and development. I took my job seriously and no one has cried harder over spilled milk than this mama when I knocked over an open bottle after spending half an hour pumping. In the beginning, Jackson consumed just a few ccs of milk at each feeding, but I knew each tiny drop boosted his immune system and provided critical nutrients for his development.
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and we applaud the efforts of all the organizations that work hard to educate new moms about the benefits of breastfeeding. We know it is best for babies – especially those born preterm or with a special healthcare need. But, we also acknowledge that many moms are unable to produce milk and are so grateful for the efforts of nonprofit Milk Banks across the country and the thousands of donor moms who ensure all babies have access to this life saving liquid gold!
I was determined for Jackson to breastfeed and was relentless in seeking the best advice, lactation consultants, positioning devices and nursing aides. It was exhausting, but my efforts paid off and I was lucky to be able to successfully breastfeed Jackson after more than five months of pumping exclusively.
Today his diet consists of bacon double cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza and Oreos. Thank goodness he also likes salad, steak and fish! I could have never imagined such an appetite all those years ago when I worried over each tiny morsel I could cajole my picky toddler to eat.
If it would not embarrass him to the point of never speaking to me again, I would gladly affix a banner to our front door today that says, “Look at Jackson thrive, he now weighs 101.5.” But maybe that would have been better than sharing it on our blog for thousands to see. Shhh, don't tell on me!
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director
More Good Stuff
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Having a baby in the NICU is the first of many parenting challenges. Clinical social worker and psychotherapist Mary McKay Duncan, LMSW shares how to manage parenting in the NICU and beyond using the Nurtured Heart Approach®, which plays to children's strengths.
It's Okay, Preemie Parent
So much is out of your control as the parent of a preemie, including your emotions. One NICU mom, Rebecca Wood, shares that it's okay and normal to have these reactions and feelings.
Deciding to Pump Breast Milk for an Extended Period of Time
NICU mom Kathy McClelland never imagined she would decide to solely pump breast milk. But it's what she decided to do when breast feeding wasn't working. She shares her best advice for making a pumping schedule work.
Preemie Power Starts Next Month!
Snap a photo of your little one and enter them in our 5th Annual Preemie Power Photo & Essay Contest to raise awareness and share hope of the amazing resilience, courage and bravery of our children. The contest begins accepting nominations in five age categories September 29, 2014. Visit PreemiePower.org for more details.
Connect With Us
NICU Hero Award Winners Announced!
Thanks to those of you who nominated your favorite neonatal health providers for a NICU Heroes Award presented by Hand to Hold and Mead Johnson Nutrition! We are thrilled to announce that Neonatologist Dr. Stewart Lawrence from St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Horecky of Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston were named the two winners of the award this year. Four finalists were also announced including
- Michelle White, NICU Nurse, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, Huntsville, AL
- Marilee Lawson, NICU Nurse, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, San Luis Obispo, CA
- Natalie Sorrentino, NICU Nurse, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Grand Junction, CO
- Kathy Knoll, NICU Nurse, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Denver, CO
We look forward to sharing their stories with you soon!
Mark Your Calendar for a Baby Shower
Mark your calendar for a morning of fun, games, prizes and delicious food at Hand to Hold's first annual Baby Shower Ladies Luncheon to be held November 14, 2014 in Austin, Texas. This unique event will be a time of celebration for NICU graduate parents as well as those in our community who give of their time and talents to ensure the best outcomes for all babies. The event will feature Keynote Speaker Kristin Armstrong, author of Heart of my Heart, who will share reflections on the magnitude and meaning of motherhood. For more information about how to attend, visit handtohold.org/babyshower.
Become a Helping Hand Peer Mentor
Volunteer to support a family like yours. Become a Helping Hand peer mentor and use your experience to help a fellow NICU parent. Sign up for our online training and our Family Support Navigators will guide you through the process.
Chat With Healthcare Experts Each Month
Watch for our next Facebook Chat in September. Or read the transcript from last month's chat with NICU Nurse Trish Ringley of NICU Central who answered questions about preemies and the NICU. If you have a topic or speaker you'd like to suggest, contact Angie Bickford.
Thanks for Your Support
For Healthcare Providers
Hand to Hold offers two resources exclusively for NICU health professionals. First is Hand to Hold's NICU Resource Library, a collection of educational materials available by subscription for NICU families in English and Spanish. Endorsed by the National Perinatal Association, these materials complement 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.
Read more Hand to Hold Supporter Updates.