Breast Feeding a Preterm Baby

Breast Feeding a Preterm Baby

I dreamed of a perfect pregnancy. Infact, I was pretty confident it would be perfect. And why not? I ate really good mom made food (that got dunzoed from her house to my work place every single day), I did yoga and meditation without fail, I went for walks and stayed naturally in a happy state. But, life as always had other plans. I went into threatened pre-term labour at 26 weeks and 4 days. Inspite of being injected with steroids, hormones, meds to stop contractions, insulin to control the spike in sugar levels due to steroids, I went into labour on day 4 (27 weeks and 1 day). After enduring contractions all night and morning, I went through a C section because the baby was in breech. My doc was so engrossed in bringing this little baby into the world as gently as possible that she had forgotten to notice the gender. After about 5 mins of the baby leaving my womb, she casually asked the nurse if it was a boy or a girl, and the nurse casually replied – “It’s a boy”. That’s when I heard it. I was numb to everything that was happening because it had all happened too fast. Who is prepared at 6 months and 10 days? 

He was 1.180 kilos at birth. My parents, brother, friends and husband did a fabulous job of managing my emotions. As I had not seen him (and would not see him for 3 days), they told me he looked perfect. They spoke about the hair, his features, how my mom thought he looked like me and like a full term baby. When I look back, I am certain this set the tone for the coming days as I stayed in a balanced state mentally for what laid ahead of me. You see, on birth he was shifted from Apollo Seshadripuram to Apollo Bannergatta Road because the latter had a better NICU. A team of doctors were waiting for my little boy to come out and to transfer him in an ambulance. And hence, I wouldn’t see him for the next 3 days as we were in different hospitals. 

As he was on ventilator for Day 1 and 2, they could not give him breastmilk but on the morning of Day 3, the day I was to be discharged, they asked me for it. The adventure of the first drop of breastmilk reaching my bub was quite something. A helpful soul in the adjacent room lent me her breastpump and introduced me to the concept of pumping. I on the other hand had severe spinal headache, something you get because of the injection given to your spine during C Section. As we drove from one end of Bangalore to other, my husband, Jeevan insisted we go home and go to the hospital the next day. But I was determined on making sure my baby got breastmilk the same day. And so, I pumped out whatever little I could get, put it in a tiny tupperware container (did not know steel is preferred) and took the trip to the NICU clutching on to this little box with the most precious liquid on this whole planet. 

And then I saw him, muddled up under tubes and needles, inside an incubator almost every part of  his body was covered with some medical equipment and it took me 3 trips in and out of NICU to gain composure. But there he was, my little angel, his bare chest going up and down, giving life all he had. At that moment, I decided I will give this my all too and together we will overcome this challenge. 

We decided we will call him Omi, till we figure out his official name. For the first 40 odd days, Omi could not taste breastmilk as it was given to him through a tube that took the milk straight to his stomach. It went from 2ml per feed every three hours, to 24 ml per feed and then feed on demand. My day was all about pumping back then. Wash, sterlise, pump, store and repeat. I had to also make sure there was enough for the next 24 hours. Slowly, as the supply increased, I had enough and more to donate to an NGO that catered to the needs of other NICU babies. I am sure the blessings of the mothers helped my little boy get stronger. 

Omi went through 2 blood transfusions, had a hole in the heart which got corrected with medicines, went from being on ventilator to CPAP to oxygen hood to oxygen tube before he started breathing on his own. He developed a bloated tummy because of wehich we had to restart – went from getting 24ml of breastmilk every feed to 2ml every feed

After about 40 days, we slowly shifted to palaada feed and after about a week of that we tried direct feed. I often say this – What is the most natural occurrence for most mothers were milestones for us and feeding him directly was a the biggest. And look at the marvel of nature – Inspite of getting feed through tube for one and a half months, this boy latched. I did not know how big a deal this was back then but soon realized and feel grateful for this even today. Slowly the number of direct feeds increased, the nurses helped me great deal to get breastfeeding right and to feel confident about feeding him after bringing home. 

There were many things I worried about while bringing my boy home after 54 days in NICU but breastfeeding was not one of them! 

We have not really looked back ever since. The more I read, the more I knew the capabilities and power of breastmilk. When he developed an ear infection and it wouldn’t heal inspite of 3 weeks aof antibiotics, I wished for the breastmilk to heal him. I don’t know if it was this or the meds but he got better after 2 days. 

There are times when elders in the family argue and say I should be feeding him more solids, giving him more water and breastmilk is not/will not be enough, but thanks to the knowledge I have gathered from other mothers, I know nothing comes close to this bespoke concoction that gets custom made every single time as per the baby’s need.

God made mothers and gave them a superpower and that superpower, that miraculous liquid gold is breastmilk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.