August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. For some moms with babies in the NICU breastfeeding isn’t an option for quite some time. In order to provide the much-needed breast milk to their babies, many moms choose to pump. I pumped for four months for James without much success. But, when feedings are measured in fifths of a teaspoon, even the smallest amount helps for a while. Choosing to stop pumping was a difficult decision filled with lots of guilt and feelings of failure, but it proved to be the best decision for me.
For moms who are struggling with this now, please stop beating yourself up. It isn’t your fault, and if it gets to be too much, know that it’s ok to stop.
Letting Go of the Guilt When Pumping Doesn’t Work
I remember meeting with the lactation consultant when I was on hospitalized bed rest, pregnant with James. Of course I would pump. James was going to come early. How early we didn’t know, but definitely early. It was the first time I heard breast milk referred to as “liquid gold,” and the first time I realized how important it would be for James, especially now.
Liquid gold. I cringed a little bit every time I heard that term. Yes, breast milk was more important than ever for James, but that term carried a weight with it that felt almost impossibly heavy. I had always planned to breastfeed James, but I had my doubts as to whether or not it would be successful even before James was delivered prematurely. I made up my mind to give it my best shot when the neonatologist told me that pumping was one of the most important things I could do for James. I knew I had to do whatever it took to get him the “liquid gold” he needed.
I am so glad you wrote about this. I had terrible guilt with my 3 full term children that I could not make enough milk. Then I felt the guild all over again (much worse because of the circumstances) when my preemie was born. I managed to make enough milk for 3.5 months and I felt like I deserved a prize for that bc it was not easy run a family, visit the NICU and pump every 2 hours! My daughter Joy was born at 23 weeks last year. Due to modern medicine and prayers she is doing great today. I hemorrhaged at 17 weeks for the first of 4 times because of 100% placenta previa, which turned into placenta accreta. After she came home from 121 days in the NICU, I wrote a memoir called “From Hope To Joy” about my life-threatening pregnancy and my daughter’s 4 months in the NICU (with my 3 young sons at home), which is now available on Amazon. It was quite a roller coaster that I am certain some of you have been on or are currently riding on. My goal of writing our memoir is to give a realistic look at what lies ahead to families with preemies in the NICU while showing them that hope can turn into Joy and that miracles can happen. Please see my website http://www.micropreemie.net and subscribe. Thank you.