If you need to increase your milk supply due your baby being hospitalised, try these 9 tips below.
Having a baby during this pandemic is very stressful and even more complicated when your baby is hospitalised in Neonatal ICU (NICU). Some mothers of premature babies are reporting that they have less time (in some cases only 1 hour per day) to spend with their little one.
This affects their ability to bond and their breast milk supply. Many hospitals are not allowing Kangaroo Care, which is know to help with bonding and increasing milk supply. The wearing of masks, gloves and aprons can create an additional barrier to bonding. My Breastpump has compiled a list of tips that can assist you in increasing your milk supply as well as bonding better with your baby.
Here are some tips to help you bond better with your baby and help you to increase your milk supply while expressing;
- Rent a hospital grade breast pumpand express at least 8 times in 24 hours. Your body needs to know that there is a baby who needs breastmilk. Therefore, you need to pump as often as you would be feeding your baby directly. If you are not able to rent a hospital grade breast pump, try to get a double electric breast pump. The double electric breast pumps help you to save time by expressing both breast at the same time. They have also been found to increase your milk supply because both breasts are stimulated at the same time.
- Use heat and massage to help to “wake up” your breast. The warmth and massage help with your letdown and start your milk to flow. A great way to do this is to use a small baby’s bottle with warm water. Pour water into the bottle so that the temperature is hot but comfortable, make sure that the lid is closed tightly. Roll the bottle from the base of your breast to the nipple, use some pressure but make sure that this is a comfortable movement. Massage all the way around your breast. You can also use your hand, fist or finger to gently massage your breasts. After a few minutes you can start using your pump. If you are very new to pumping you might want to repeat the heat and massage during your expressing.
- Have a picture or video of your baby. Being able to see and think about your baby really helps to boost your milk product. If your baby is hospitalised and you are not able to hold or sit next to your baby, looking at a video or hearing your baby is another way that you can focus your attention on your child and making breast milk. By watching your baby you are able to remove all other thoughts and worries.
- Practice hands on pumping. Hands on pumping is done while or just after you have used your electric breast pump. You also massage the breast and squeeze it gently to help move the milk out of the breast. This helps to remove more milk and also the milk with the higher fat content which is great for your babies weight gain.
- Practice kangaroo care as soon as possible. You may need to wait until you are home or just before you leave the hospital before you can do kangaroo care, but as soon as you are able do as much as possible. Kangaroo are is when you have your baby in nothing but a nappy and they are lying directly on your chest. There they are comfortable, can hear your heartbeat and breathing and are kept the perfect temperature. This is so important for bonding and your baby and knows you from when he was in the womb and you are able to smell see and hear your baby. Not only is kangaroo care good for bonding it is also very good at increasing you milk supply.
- Get a bonding heart or two. Bonding hearts are made from fabric. They help your baby to smell you when you leave the hospital. How it works is that you wash and iron the heart and place in a clean ziplock bag. Once you are inside the NICU you place it on your chest. The heart will absorbed your smell. Just before you leave, you place the bonding heart inside your baby’s cot. Your baby will then smell you instead of the hospital disinfectants. It is a lovely way of leaving some of your love with your baby.
- Ask the hospital for breastmilk storage containers. Most hospital will have disposable breast milk storage bottle that you can take home and sterilise to bring back to the hospital. Make sure that you label your milk with your baby’s name and date.
- Find a support group. You will need extra support during this time and it is best to be able to talk to other mothers are also NICU moms be it current or past. They will be able to listen to you and help you understanding what the doctors are saying.
- Manage your expectations. As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day” and the same is with breast feeding. For the first few days your baby only needs a few mls of breast milk and this slowly increases. You should find that your milk supply will be ahead of your baby’s needs. If using a hospital grade breast pump, following the tips above and express 8 or more times a day. You should expect your milk to reach about 500ml between day 5 and 7. This will help to get your milk supply to its full potential within the next few weeks.
Expressing full time is a lot of work and it does take time, but it can also be so rewarding. Once your baby is strong enough to latch directly you will have a strong milk supply which can make your breast-feeding journey so much easier. Please let us know if you have tried any of these tips or have some tips of your own to share. We look forward to sharing idea that help to support other moms.