A.P. asks from Bogota, NJ on January 31, 2008
Seeking Advice on Preemie Twins Staying in Hospital & Preparing for Home Arrival
Hi, this is my first time for a request but not for myself. I have read many of your requests and responses and figured I would send this one out. A friend of mine in the DC area will have her twin boys delivered via c-section this afternoon due to complications and pre-eclampsia. The twins are apparently in great health so the Drs. determined it be better for them to be delivered at 20-something weeks than to risk damage inside the belly. My question really is how can my friend prepare herself and husband mentally and physically when her twins have to stay six or more weeks and she can go home in four days? Have any of you pumped milk and fed it to your babies? Have any of you requested donated breast milk instead of formula? I had two c-sections and was able to advise on that recovery but my kids were full term and was able to take them home four days later. Any advice will help. I will give my friend this site once she comes home from the hospital. Thank you all in advance. :-)
So What Happened?™
Hi Ladies, Thank you so much for your generous support and comments! I am forwarding all of your wise words to my friend and her husband. So the boys were delivered yesterday around 5 PM and cried on their own at delivery!! Doctors said it could not
have gone any better and they are in great health. One was 2lbs 10 oz and the other 2lb and 8 oz. Their parents will announce their names soon. I will keep you posted and thank you so much again for all of your kind words and support. A.
A.S. answers from Rochester on February 01, 2008
DEFINITELY go ahead and pump milk - it will help the babies' immune system and help them grow. Have her talk with the hospital's lactation consultant and USE her...
T.G. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
My oldest was born at 31 weeks, almost 13 years ago, also from pre-eclampsia. He was in the hospital for 33 days.
There really isn't anything you can do to prepare for having to leave them at the hospital & go home without them. But I can share that on the positive side, it gave me a chance to recoup & be rested when he was able to come home. Something that seems awful to say when you are just heartbroken to leave them there but grateful for when they come home.
I did pump, freeze & bring my milk with me. Make she she specifies that she wants them solely on breast milk. Sometimes the nurses are very busy & forget or just grab the formula because it's easier for them (my experience)
If she has any questions, I wouldn't mind helping her thru what I can. I'm praying for her & the babies
J.H. answers from Utica on February 01, 2008
Hi. My son was a preemie, and had to stay in the NICU, but thankfully it was only 2 weeks.
It's so hard, emotionally.
Ask your friend to check for a Ronald McDonald house by the hospital that the babies will be in. There was one right next door to our hospital that was available for the parents to stay in (if the hospital is far away from home--for us it was an hour away).
The big thing for her to remember (as hard as it is), is that you know they are being taken care of and watched over every minute of the day. And if something were to happen, thats the best place for them to be.
The NICU our son was in allowed you to visit any time, day or night (with the exception of a half hour shift change), which helped alot, just knowing you can go in and at least see/talk to them.
Just reassure her that it's going to seem like a very long 6 weeks, but they are going to get the best care and in the end she'll have two healthy little ones to bring home.
Feel free to email me if you want any other details of our NICU experience (____@____.com).
Oh, something she should look into...before the babies can leave the NICU, they'll have to be "tested" in their carseats, to make sure they can breath ok in the seat. Tell her to go online and find inserts for her carseat (that are specifically for preemies). And www.preemies.org is a good website to check out.
C.D. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
My daughter was one month premature. Because of complications she was transferred to a different hospital that had a NICU and watching as they put her isolate onto the stretcher & then into the ambulance and take her was the most horrible moment of my life. I asked to be discharged the following day even though I was not recovered from my c-section. She stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks. It was really difficult traveling back & forth to the hospital every day, and extremely emotional, but it gave me time to heal and be prepared for when she came home. She was my first so I was clueless about what to do. The nurses in the hospital taught us how to hold her, she was so tiny, and how to feed her, she had a NG tube. They also had a special room for moms to pump. They gave us bottles & labels and took care of it for us. My best advice would be to touch / hold them as much as possible and talk or sing to them. My daughter still calms down whenever I sing her the NICU song that I made up....it is amazing. Tell her to enjoy the quiet and free time before they get home. Take care of herself and heal so that she can be there for them:-)
If you have any other questions please feel free to email me.
Your friend is lucky to have such a supportive friend like you! Friends & family are the most important thing!!!
T.N. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
Hello! My daughter was born at 29 weeks and stayed in the hospital until her due date, 2.5 months later. This was a very emotionally challenging time for my husband and I, but I think the best advice I can give is to encourage your friend to settle in to this new and unexpected routine with enthusiasm. It helped us to visit our little one every day, bringing pumped milk for her.
As far as the pumping goes, a lactation specialist at the hospital got me pumping right away and while I felt helpless about so much of what was going on, THIS I could do. Pumping is not fun and will not give her that wonderful bonding experience, but the fact that I could provide such good nutrition for my daughter gave me a real sense of purpose. Something to warn your friend about is that preemies who have been bottle fed often end up not nursing well or nursing at all. I struggled with this with my daughter and it was very frustrating. If the twins are healthy enough at their birth, your friend may be able to nurse right away, which would help. If not, she can work with a nursing specialist when the twins are ready and hopefully they will take to the breast. Otherwise, she may be doing many months of pumping and that will have to be what she has to work with!
Overall, it's best just to accept the situation as it is and while the babies are in the hospital, be vigilant about their care. She should make friends with the nurses and other staff, because she will see them EVERY day. Bring gifts and treats - working with sick or small babies is a tough and demanding job with little thanks!
By the time the babies come home, your friend and her partner will be SO ready and well-trained by the hospital staff that caring for the little ones will be much less challenging than expected, so that's something positive!
My best to your friend, her partner and her little ones!
J.E. answers from New York on February 02, 2008
My twins were delivered at 32 1/2 weeks via C-section due to my severe preeclampsia. It was very scary and overwhelming but they are now 16 months old and perfect!!! I pumped while my babies were in the NICU (my daugher was there a little over a month, and my son 3 1/2 weeks) so she should be prepared that one twin may stay longer, which is normal and quite common. What helped is that I transitioned one coming home, and then the other- which eased me into caring for 2!!! Since I was so stressed, my milk took a lot longer to come in- I was so frustrated and almost gave up breast feeding, but stuck with it and pumped for both of them for 7 months!!! The best advice I can give you as a friend is to be there for support- I felt like a failure and an incompetent mom that I caused this, and my friends were wonderful and supportive and were always there for listening and encouragement. It does get so much better and it's all worth it in the end! Good luck
K.W. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
I'm with Jennifer B. ask about staying with the babies.
My son had a UTI at five weeks and was hospitalized for five days. I stayed in the room with him to breastfeed. I changed his diapers etc...My hospital allowed meals for me because I was in turn nourishing the patient.
be strong and pray.
D.A. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
Hi. I can totally empathize with your friend's situation. I was pregnant with twins when my water broke at 31 weeks. They also were born via C-Section but, since it was an emergency situation, we delivered at a city hospital (RWJMC), not our intended one. I can't speak more highly of the care they received. It was exceptional and the nurses (in every unit) were very understanding and supportive. My babies, thankfully, were of good size (4 lbs. and 3.8 lbs.) and in good health.
They both were immediately taken to the NICU and placed in individual incubators to help regulate their temperatures. They both had jaundice- which, tell your friend is common--they are placed under lights, wear special glasses- and while the lights are on- you can't hold them. (This went on for almost a week). They do take blood from them everyday- from their heels. They have a heart monitor and an oxygen monitor attached to them, plus any IV's. They will also have a tube coming from their mouths- that's where they'll feed them until they're old enough to learn from a bottle. At first, it's scary b/c you are overwhelmed with giving birth early, having the babies apart, seeing them look small and then be hooked up to machines. But the nurses are very comforting and will explain everything to you. Just don't be afraid to ask, anything-- they are happy to answer questions, let you hold them- if possible- teach you how to change, feed, bathe them- whatever they can do for you- they will. My son needed extra oxygen for one day- called a CPAP-- this is a large mask placed on their faces to help push oxygen into their lungs-- it just looks scary b/c they are so small. Honestly, it's amazing to see these babies- some very small and ill- be such fighters.
I was in the hospital for 5 days. When I was released, my husband would drop me off on his way to work and I would stay the day. He would visit after work and then we'd go home. I rented the hospital pump and started right away. I didn't get much at first, but they didn't eat much and the nurses ALWAYS said, "whatever you get, we will give-- it's liquid gold." My babies were in the NICU- then moved to SICU (a step down unit where we were allowed to dress them, feed them, hold them as much as we wanted and assume most of the care). They both were released on their 31st day of life.
As for your questions, I pumped every 2 hours around the clock to try to get as much milk as I could to come in. I rented the hospital pump. They gave me special tubes/ stickers to put the milk in. So, while they were in the hospital- they got my milk, but, if they ran out- they gave them special preemie formula. I met with the lactation specialist numerous times-- The difficulty was that while they were in the NICU- they liked the pumped milk so they could accurately record how much they were eating. I should have asked about having them "practice" breast feeding-- but I didn't. So, my guys never took to breast feeding. What I did do every day was kangaroo them-- your friend needs shirts she can unbutton so she can place the babies against her skin. Once they are moved to SICU, she can practice breast feeding everyday but they will still have them learn to drink from a bottle. I still pumped throughout the day, but I brought their baby books with me so I had something to do while they slept. Once my husband and I went home for the day, I did a final nighttime call to check on them and their weight, etc. Then the next day, I would start all over again. I packed lunch/drinks but the hospital gave free lunches to Moms so I used that option sometimes. I was glad that both babies were released the same day. I didn't want to leave one to visit the other. But some Moms have said having only one home helped them establish a routine, then the 2nd baby joined when they came home.
I just lived every day for that day. Try to focus on the babies and their small gains, even if they have setbacks- try to stay positive. The best thing, if possible, is just to be there- to talk to them, touch their hands, hold them (if possible). They will feel your love and strength.
Another thing that was helpful was joining a twin Mom group. Many people have been in her exact situation and can listen, share and offer support. It's also nice when they come home and are big enough to be around people, to meet up with Moms who have twins and share / swap ideas and stories.
My b/g twins are now 9 mo. old and weigh 20 lbs. and 18 lbs. It's an amazing, wonderful- double blessing.
Best of luck to your friend and her two precious gifts.
J.B. answers from New York on February 01, 2008
I have twin boys who are 5 months old now. The hospital I had the boys at allow moms to stay in the hospital in a room (just no food service, nurses, etc) sort of like you are in a hotel so I could be there to nurse them every 2-3 hours. They were only in the NICU for 10 days but I couldn't have done it any other way. Tell your friend to check with the hospital. Also, tell her to take advantage of the rest she will get while at home alone. I know it is so hard to be without them, but when they come home .....it's all over. I am so exhausted and when I was pregnant really hated hearing "rest while you can" well I wish I did!!!
Good Luck to your friend.