Motherhood + Marriage

Our NICU Journey

In light of sharing Dillon’s 18-month update last week, it made me realize how truly far we’ve come since his time in the NICU. Following 54 days of hospital bed rest, we embarked on a 32-day NICU stay, which really felt like 32 years. But one thing I never really touched on was our journey with feeding.

When I first got pregnant, I had the attitude that “I will breastfeed if it works; if not, we’ll do formula.” Well, I’m glad I went in with that mentality, because having a preemie makes any breastfeeding journey a million times more complicated. I remember immediately after having him, the lactation consultant came to my room to teach me how to pump, because since he was so small, he wouldn’t be able to feed from my breast for a long time. However, I learned that breast milk is best for NICU babies since them getting sick is such a high possibility. I didn’t even want to think about anything else, since I was so preoccupied about how he was doing down in the NICU, so having to learn how to pump was especially crucial to our journey.

When your baby is in the NICU, there are so many thoughts and worries that run through your head. One thing many preemie parents rarely think about is whether breast milk will be enough to help their baby grow. Preemies need more nutrients, calories and protein to thrive. That’s why the NICU will add something called a fortifier to your breast milk to provide the added nutrition preemies need. But, even though the name on the little packet says “human milk fortifier,” most of these products are made from cow milk! That’s been shown to cause serious complications, even necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) — a leading cause of death for preemies! I remember researching NEC while I was on bed rest and even had nightmares that Dillon would get it. Learn more with this infographic.

So, I started my journey of exclusively pumping while he was in the NICU. To be honest, this was a horrible time for me. I would look at the pump and just cry. Not only was my baby away from me, but I had to sit with this thing attached to me for 30 minutes EVERY 3 hours to get enough milk for him. Luckily, in the beginning, he was only able to eat 3 mL every 3 hours [that’s 1/10th of an ounce!] so I was able to keep up. But as he got bigger, before we knew it, he was drinking 30 mL every 3 hours! My body was not producing much milk no matter how hard I tried [which gave me tremendous anxiety and guilt] and I knew I’d have to bring in reinforcements. So, in addition to my breast milk and topping off with donor milk, Dillon would get fortifier added to his feeds. We are so blessed that he never had any major setbacks in the NICU, and I know that my commitment to pumping and openness to have the NICU give him donor milk was a big part of what helped our relatively smooth sailings.

That’s why I’ve decided to partner with Prolacta Bioscience, which offers the ONLY human milk fortifier made from 100% human donor milk to give preemies the added nutrition they need in the NICU! I want to help raise awareness so other preemie parents know there is an alternative to cow milk-based fortifier!

Your preemie needs every opportunity to grow strong and healthy, so they can go home with you! I am so grateful that Dillon got everything he needed to leave the hospital after only a month. I know the NICU experience can be harrowing, and if there is anything that can give you even the smallest piece of mind, it’s worth it.




If you’re a preemie parent like myself, or have family or friends who are, be sure to share this or tag them in the comments below so they can learn more about the benefits of fortifier made with 100% human milk for their baby!


This post is sponsored by Prolacta Bioscience, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Nines to 5!

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