Pumping for a Preemie in NICU

Updated on September 28, 2008
K.N. asks from Marietta, GA
40 answers

My friend just delivered her son at 31 weeks. (He is 4 days old, around 3.5 lbs, doing well, breathing on his own). However she's trying to pump breast milk for him and has gotten a little freaked out by the NICU staff's comments that the bottles need to be "clean". (She thought the bottles were clean, but then apparently they asked her to throw it out....)

Yes, she does plan on asking the NICU nurses for more info, but I suggested that we could ask the 'preemie moms' out there if they could give her some practical tips on:
- How does she ensure that the bottles are adequately sterile after she washes them? Does she have to rewash & sterilize them after a certain amount of time, even if they haven't been used?
- Can she still pump at home and bring that milk to the hospital for him or does she just need to freeze it (for when he's older) and only feed him whatever she pumps "fresh" at the hospital?
- Should she be concerned about the breast pump itself being sterile enough? (I believe she is using the same breast pump that she used with her first child, 2 yrs ago).
- Also, she wasn't sure if she should exclude certain foods from her diet simply because his digestive system is so immature.... like nuts, milk, gassy green vegetables?

Thanks for the info everyone! She's feeling a bit overwhelmed (it happened so fast!), so I hope you all don't mind me asking the questions for her.

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So What Happened?

Thanks Everyone!! Baby Luke is doing well... Lost a bit of weight at first but is up to 4 lbs now.

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S.W.

answers from Houston on

Karen: When my boys were born early and in the NICU, the hospital provided sterile bottles for me to use. I just grabbed a few each time I came to visit and took them home. They were disposable one time use jobs. When the boys came home I continued to use them plus the sterile nipples they provided. They were 2 oz, so they were perfect for them at the beginning. I also think it is fine for her to use her own pump again.

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K.M.

answers from Houston on

The hospital should be providing her with sterile 2-4 oz bottles that she can put her breast milk into. If they are not then she needs to ask for them. They should also provide labels for her to put on the bottles that they provide that has the baby's name and other information on it. As far as the breast pump that she is using, she can take all the removable parts and put them in a pot of boiling water for 2 min. She should be able to eat anything. If you or her have anyother questions or if she wants to talk with someone that has been thru this(2 times now)please send me a message. Tell her to take one day at a time. NICU is a very stressful place. I hope that her baby is home soon.

K.

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L.C.

answers from Phoenix on

She could try contacting the Mother's Milk Bank of Austin--www.mmbaustin.org or ###-###-####. Good luck!

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J.S.

answers from Houston on

hmmm, I had two preemies. I pumped for both. The hospital gave me plastic bottles that I used to collect milk and labels with name, etc and for the time and date it was expressed. Any fresh milk, expressed that day or from the prior evening I brought with me to the hospital for the baby and when their supply got too big, luckily for me it did, I began to freeze it. There are bags for breast milk as well. CVS, Walgreens or Babies R Us will sell them, by Lansinoh. I think even Target has them.

She needs to get a lactation consultant and rent a hospital grade pump for home. I have a a travel pump that I bought and it was not strong enough enough to keep up my supply. I needed a hospital grade one, which you can rent. She needs to drink lots of water!! In my opinion, she should continue to eat a well balanaced diet and really not avoid anything unless there is a family history of allergies. When you get a pump kit (the suction cups and tubes etc, they are strerile and as long as the their washed with each use with soap and water and the tubes don't get milk in them, I don't understand what the hospital is talking about being clean.

She is overwhelmed. Just tell her to keep pumping and work with the lac consultant. My boys were 4.5 (9 weeks early) and 5.6 (6 weeks early). Neither could breast feed and I pumped for one year for each with milk left over to feed another family.

The hospital is there to help her. Tell her to get her rest while she can, she has the best baby sitters in the world!!
Send me an email to [email protected]____.com if your friend needs any more questioned answered or just preemie support.

My boys are 3 and 5 year sold now and the 5 year old is HUGE!! As in, almost as tall as me. Folks are shocked when I say he is a preemie. The 3 year old is also very average size and talks like he is 35. They 'do catch up', but she should closely monitor the baby's development by a developmental Pediatrician. I don't want to scare her or anyone. I was told, oh they catch up and they do but my first son at two was walking and talking and we thought all was ok. we moved overseas and began to see things as not quite right then brushed it off as oh he is a preemie. He is a little behind developmentally, but you would never know it looking at him. I had him looked at by Ped there and in the states. We camed back to the states and moved to TX where we brought him to TCH. He was diagnosed with Autism at 4 years old. Personally, I am not 100% convinced of the diagnosis. He is very high functioning and getting better every day. This kid has been through more than most people have in a lifetime and he is a late bloomer. He is fine. Again, not trying to scare anyone, just be aware that there are Develomental Pediatricians out there that will track progress more closely and if you ever had doubts about ANYTHING, contact that eci program (I am not sure I have the name right but the program here for kids 0-3 years old for help with therapy). Early intervention is key for anyone.

Also, turn that baby so he doesn't develop a flat spot on his head!!! First kiddo (see he has been through so much and I am not sharing half of it) wore a hlemet for a flat spot too! But again, he looks and IS totally normal, even if labeled Autistic. He can talk, make his needs known, dress himself and is in regular kindergarten.

Ok.... enough.... again she can or you can email me and we can email or call each other. It will be ok!!

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L.L.

answers from Houston on

Per the neonatologist at MHM, 1st 6 -12 mos. for preemie babiies is critical and generally requires a high degreee of social isolation to keep them healthy. Medela (?), the breast pump brand makes microwave sterilization bags that are reusable and fantastic for doing this - just place *everything* (bottle and lid parts, breast pump parts, tubes, passifiers, nose/ear syringes, etc, etc) in them and zap per instructions and it's done. Learn to think like a microbiologist in a crime lab. Everything has "wet paint" on it and if it touches something else that belongs to or is used for your baby, then that item is now contaminated with the other item's "wet paint" (i.e., the germs from the other item)and must be re/sterilized. The bottom of a purse is on the floor of many, many places and on the top of your car which is also exposed to avian excretions, etc ... not to freak you out but just think about what gets transported from your purse alone!!! No big deal for a person with a healthy/full enabled immune system but not so for the preemies. My daughter was born 7 weeks premature and I had to becomne a germ freak. Once she was around 18 mos., I put her into daycare and let the exposure begin (and boy did it!). Tell your friend to be prepared because people will ridicule her, ignore her requests and not appreciate/understand what her mission is but it's critical to keep her baby as healthy as possible until her son is old enough to withstand the exposure. Babies get sick and go too the doctor. Preemis get sick and go back to ICU. Well-meaning family and friends will cough into their hands, pat their pets, scratch their noses and touch bathroom doorknobs (and sometime not even wash their hands after using the toilet!) and then want to touch or hold your child. You have to be very defensive and deliberate in your thinking but it's worth it. Practice saying "thanks for the nice attention but the neonatologists says that I have to keep (son) from too much exposure until his immune system develops - when he is a bit larger/tronger, I know he'd love to be held by you!". Later, say, "Yes, I'd love for you to hold my son - would you mind using some of this hand sanitizer or washing your hands first?". Anybody who has cared for a child should do this automatically, just as doctors do - if they don't then they don't follow standard protocol. Practice saying the phrases every day because she will need to say it without thinking or flinching for 1-2 years. Buy clorox bleach wipes and constantly wipe doorhandles and switches in house and car, wipe keys, and use protective blankets on one side for baby as a cover in public this winter and as a layer between baby and anything (keeping the 'dirty' side away from baby at the next use). Change air filters regularly and have everybody in house wash their hands more regularly 'just because' and get annual flu shots in a timely manner (except for Mama, if continues to nurse - check w/ pediatrician). Tx Childrens Ped Assoc/Dr. Susan O'Neil and William Nix in The Woodlands were recommended to me by the NICU staff - we use O'Neil and her PA and absolutely love both. Also, request to stagger the shots as you vaccinate so her son's immune system doesn't go into shock from a bolus of foreign antibodies - O'Neil will allow this w/o hassle.

Good luck! - It's a bit of a long and lonely road but once they're stonger, they're just like any other kid. My only regret is not having used a speech therapist earlier - O'neil caught the issue at 12 mos. and I did not respond until closer to 24 mos. - ended up quitting my job to sit in my child's daycare and train the nursery workers and reinforce what we learned at home from ECI (another great organization - specialist who train the parents to meet the child's development needs - frequently used for preemies who are behind in their development, as is expected).

Good luck to her and you in supporting her!

L.

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K.S.

answers from Houston on

My understanding is that you can pump breastmilk and have your child drink it in the NICU but that you need to bag it. At least that's what a friend did. The freezer bags are supposed to be sterile and they travel well in a portable cooler. The hospital supplies the bottles I think.

Also, my friend made several trips to the hospital just to breastfeed her son. She had a schedual set up and the nurses knew what that was.

I don't know about the diet thing so your friend will need to talk to the pediatrician about that.

Good luck!

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E.I.

answers from San Antonio on

My girls were born at 28 weeks. The NICU gave me the disposable bottles to pump in. You can buy them at similac.com. They bottles are sterile and individually wrapped, and came with their own lid. After use, they were just tossed.

Note, my children were also given donor milk to sub for the lack of milk I was producing. She can freeze the milk if the baby wont drink it in the next 24 hours...the hospital will thaw it. She'll have to put the date on the containers. There is no need to wash the sterile similac bottles.

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K.A.

answers from Houston on

I am a preemie mom, although my preemies are 16 yrs old. I did nurse them & yes for the first 6/7 weeks I was pumping at the hospital and at home.
See if she can get with the hospital lactation consultant. Very helpful. Does the hospital have a milk bank? I would go there and they had machines and gave me sterile bottles to pump right into. You had to have your own tubing and funnel?(I forget the name of that part that actually touches the breast) That may have changed by now.
Just like a full term baby, avoid those foods that will make him gassy.
Milk can be frozen. I was feeding them breast milk for months after I stopped. I did produce enough for the entire nursery!! The milk bank was chuckled when it was time to take home "my shelf" from their very large deep freeze.
Check with a maternity store that rents machine and ask them about how to sterilize a machine.
I know about how fast and mind spinning preemie delivery is. He will grow fast and it be incredible to believe he was so tiny. Many Blessings!!!

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E.L.

answers from Houston on

See what info. you can get from LaLecheLeague International. They have tons of papers on details--call the 800 number on the website if you don't find what you want on their website (I think it's LLLI.org but I'm not sure). I hope she didn't ditch the milk with colostrum in it....I hate nurses who are jerks. Good luck.

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M.F.

answers from Austin on

Karen,

Bless you for being such a wonderful friend.

I had two preemies, one at 34 weeks, the second at 35 weeks.

The first time around, she was in a "Level II Nursery." It was kind of like NICU-light. She came out pretty healthy, and they didn't need a lot of specialized equipment for her (they had O2 bubbles and bili lights on-hand). At that hospital, I brought in my pumped milk in breastmilk storage bags, carried in a cooler bag. I left it refrigerated, until they had a good stash, and told me to start freezing it.

The second time around, my youngest needed to be on a CPAP machine, so she was transferred to Seton Central. They couldn't take anything in the bags, but they had a HUGE bin of sterile and disposable breastmilk storage bottles. I would bring them home by the diaper bag-load. Again, I brought it refrigerated until they told me to freeze it.

At both hospitals, I was given a fresh breastpump kit, with brand new tubes, horns, etc. If not, there are places where she can take them to have them sterilized. I would also suggest that she talk with her nurse at the NICU for other suggestions.

I know it's very stressful, but it's very important that she keep pumping around the clock to keep her supply up, and find a way to get that milk to her precious addition.

Best wishes to her and her family -
M.

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N.T.

answers from Austin on

My daughter was born at 33 weeks. I'm not sure why they asked her to throw out the milk so asking the NICU nurses is best rather than assuming the reason.

I would pump at the appropriate times, then put it in the freezer or refrigerator before taking it to the hospital. They provided me with a bag that had the ice packs to use for transport of the milk to the hospital. You want the child to get the breast milk now so freezing until later isn't the answer. And since she can't be there 24 hours a day, the baby should be getting the breast milk she brings in. They ask you to write info on the bottles so it is used appropriately.

After pumping I just sterilized the equipment buy using very hot water which made my hands very red and irritated but so what. If she has gotten new parts to the pump it should be okay but using parts from two years ago might not be the best thing.

My daughter is now 6 so I don't remember if I watched what I ate way back then. I probably didn't eat spicy foods though.

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M.P.

answers from Austin on

I am a NICU nurse and we give our moms bottles to pump into and store milk for their babies. The next best option is to get one of the microwave sterilizers. There are disposable bags and also re-useable systems. They are quick and easy to use (since I know she does not have a lot of free time anymore!). The breast milk storage bags are another option although they are more difficult to take smaller feedings from without spilling that hard-earned milk.

You can use the microwave sterilizer for pumping supplies as well.

She should be pumping every 3 hours (can skip a pumping in the middle of the night to get some sleep) and keeping that milk for the baby. If the baby is already getting milk, take it fresh to the hospital (transport in a small cooler or a baggie with ice to keep it cool) Once her supply is well past what the baby is able to take, she can start freesing, but fresh is best.

As far as eliminating foods from her diet, that should not be necessary. Watch out for alcohol and medications that will pass into the milk.

Check with the staff at the hospital - if there is a lactation consultant on staff she will be an invaluable resource both for pumping and helping with feedings once the baby is ready to direct breastfeed.

Hope this helps!

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D.M.

answers from Austin on

I had two premies at one time and I used a sterilizer from Babies or Us, after you wash the bottles you run it in the microwave in a sterilizer. It cost about 29.99 but well worth peace of mind that your baby isn't getting any detergents from washing, and getting the cleanest bottles to avoid bacterial stuff( that makes them sick) Congratulations and hats off to you for breast feeding. I had a 4.8lbs one that I had to feed 1.5 ounces, burp, let the milk settle and continue feeding 1.5 - 2 more ounces and reburp to keep him gaining weight. Hes a great size and never missed a feeding (8) around the clock, 3.6.9.12 feedings. Big healthy boy now never would of guessed he was a wee one at birth.

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E.K.

answers from Houston on

When my babies were small, I boiled all the bottles to ensure they were sterilized. If she is already doing so, I am not sure what the nurses mean..she should definitely ask them the best way to handle the bottles.

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C.C.

answers from San Antonio on

3 years ago when my twins were in the nicu they provided bottles with sterile water in them that you poured out and pumber in too.

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N.S.

answers from Houston on

well being a mother of preemie twins(34wks)when it was time for me to go home i would have to pump my breastmilk freeze it then take it to the hospital. as far as the comment that the nurse made concerning her bottles not being "clean" by her being a nurse she should have explained to her what she meant because i thought that as long as she is washing and sterilizing them that they were considered to be clean. with me the hospital supplied the bottles for me and i would just pump and bring them to the hospital and they would give me more if i ran out. hope this helped.

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H.H.

answers from Houston on

I am only responding to the certain foods part of your question, as I don't have any preemies!

Most food mama eats won't actually affect babies. Here is a quote from kellymom.com (my favorite research-based website about breastfeeding)
Are there any foods that I should avoid while I’m breastfeeding?
There are NO foods that you should avoid simply because you are breastfeeding. It is generally recommended that a nursing mother eat whatever she likes, whenever she likes, in the amounts that she likes and continue to do this unless baby has an obvious reaction to a particular food.
It's suggested that everyone, particularly pregnant and nursing mothers, avoid eating certain types of fish that are typically high in mercury.
It is a good idea to restrict caffeine and alcohol to a certain extent, but it is rarely necessary to eliminate them.
Some food proteins (such as cow's milk protein or peanut protein) do pass into mother's milk. If there is a history of food allergies in your family, you may wish to limit or eliminate the allergens common in your family.
Any baby might react to a particular food (although this is not very common). If baby has an obvious reaction every time you eat a certain food, it may be helpful to eliminate that food from your diet. For more information, see Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies.

Also, here is a link to the "Breastfeeding a preemie" part of the kellymom site: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/preemie/index.html

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R.H.

answers from Houston on

I am not sure about what foods to avoid; I know meds should
be avoided alongwith alcohol. The new bottles need to be
steralized after washing. Use a large pot that the bottles
can stand up in. fill the bottles with water and the pot;
bring to a boil and add nipples, rims, and everything else
used to handle the babies milk, and cover for 10 - 15 minutes.

Of course, allow to cool before you handle items, washing hands prior to use.

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S.O.

answers from San Antonio on

I pumped at home and kept a supply at the hospital marked for my daughter. When I was at the hospital, I breastfed. She might try putting it in freezer storage bags, if they keep giving her a hard time. They are sterile out of the box. I didn't know about them when my daughter was in the hospital, but I used them later. You can buy them at Babies R Us, etc. Sterilizing the bottles should only take 3 minutes in boiling water and shouldn't have to be done more than once. I would want to know why they don't think they are clean, water spots? Get specifics. I would insist that they are clean and insist on him getting the breastmilk. Those NICU nurses are very demanding (for reason) and can be very pushy. But, what I learned the hard way is that it is MY CHILD, not theirs. You have the right to override them. Do what is best for your child no matter what they say. Even if it means showing up and giving him the bottle yourself. Maybe try rinsing in vinegar after boiling to get the water spots off? It's an emotional time, but she needs to stand up for herself and her son if she can muster up the energy.

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D.H.

answers from College Station on

First I would support her. Try to talk with her and have her relax. Those nurses are professionals and work with premature babies everyday. They want to make sure she is doing everything correctly. Premature babies are much more prone to sickness and therefore she should not get discouraged by their support. I am not a nurse, but I work at a hospital and I see them in action everyday. It is awesome to see a little one progress and go home with their family. Please have her be patient and try to understand that they are training her to do what is best for the baby.

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J.P.

answers from Houston on

Your firend can pump and freeze the milk and then bring that to the hospital. I had a preemie that was born at 34 weeks and that is what they told me to do. They had a freezer that they stored the milk in for the babies and then they would defrost if they needed some. They is a product that I used to sterilize bottle nipples and such after he came home from the hospital. It is called the Medulla (sp?) sterilize bags. They are found at Target and at Babies R Us. They are bags that you can sterilize just about anything in. Nipples, pumping hoses, pasifiers etc...
All you have to do is add three ounces of water to the bag and zip close. You put into your microwave and in about five minutes you have sterilized what ever is in the bag. Keep it closed and everything stays sterile. You can use each bag for either ten or twenty times (it's been three years since I used them). They have the count and then all you have to do is use a marker and mark out each time you use them. They come 5 bags per box and are around $5 or $6 bucks. Hope this info comes in handy and tel your friend we wish her the best of luck!
J.

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K.M.

answers from Austin on

I had my daughter at 24 weeks and pumped the entire time she was in the NICU (101 days) and this never was an issue. Mainly because the NICU kept me well stocked with bottles that they gave me. What hospital is she at? We were at St. David's. But they should be giving her the Medela bottles (I believe they are 4 oz total) that come wrapped already and are sterilized. You just open, attach to the pump and go! If I pumped at the NICU, I would just hand off to the nurse to put in fridge/freezer or if at home, would immediately put bottle in freezer. I would take several frozen bottles up to the NICU every couple of days to keep the freezer up there replenished.
She can use any of the milk she produces. The only thing she needs to think about is any meds she may be taking. Food wise, she probably does not need to change her diet. I didn't and there have been no issues!! I cleaned the pump parts with hot water and soap (lactation told me too) and that was it. I would have her speak to a lactation specialist at the hospital. They have a wealth of knowledge and I got a lot of great advice and information from them.
My daughter is 14 mos old and doing awesome. You would never even know she was a micro-preemie! Tell your friend to hang in there. Her baby will be home before you know it! If she would like to speak to someone who has been there, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. I'd me more than happy to talk to her.

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K.R.

answers from Austin on

Karen, Our daughter was in NICU for 3 weeks and I breast feed and pumped. the hospital should give you give her bottles. They are in plastic and pre sterile. I would have her ask about the bottles.

On the freezing issue. That is fine just make sure she dates the bottles. With me, we were at the hospital early morning till mid night, so my daughter only used the bottle at night rest the time she fed by breast, so if she is doing that just make sure she has what needs to be fed to the baby while she is not there not to be in there freezer.

Eating, yes she still need to watch her diet. But I would have her ask the hospital, they SHOULD be friendly and be helping her with all her concerns and questions.

Hope this helps and God Bless to you, her and her new born.

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S.T.

answers from Houston on

I see you already have lots of responses similar to my own but I thought I'd chime in. It is SOOO HARD to have a preemie in the NICU and even harder to pump every two hours. Applaud your friend for her dedication!

I had a 32 weeker, a 34 weeker and a 36 weeker. My 32 weeker was 4 lbs 1 oz at birth and of course lost a lot of weight in the first 24 hours. They gave me sterile syringes at first and then replaced them with sterile 'urine cups' or sterile water bottles when I was making more milk. I labled them with the date and time that it was pumped. But if the hospital doesn't provide these things she can get the microwave bags which are reusable and MARVELOUS. They are made by Madela and can be found at Babies R US and I think at Target. I put my pump parts in those bags too and it gave me peace of mind to know that everything was really clean.

I did not alter my diet but if the baby is having gas then a diet alteration should be considered.

I froze the milk because it was always put in the freezer anyway. If it was freshly pumped and was going to be fed immediately I did not freeze but used ice packs so that the nurses would not worry that it was left out too long.

I'm sorry the milk was poured out but I found that the nurses didn't like feeding the breastmilk and they typically used formula instead. That was very frustrating because the preemies NEED the mothers milk!!
S.

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M.G.

answers from Austin on

Neither of my children were preemies, but I breastfeed my oldest until he was 16 months old and still breastfeeding my second son who just turned one. I was always told to not eat tomatoes, onions and spicey foods. I was told that it could give them gas. I couldn't eat brocolli with my second, he still can eat it either. good luck to your friend.

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J.G.

answers from Houston on

I am also a mom of a preemie boy. It is hard and stressfull you are a great friend. He is 3 now and you would never now he was a preemie.

Breastfeeding and bottles in the nicu. My nicu gave me sterile bottles and tops to take with me. I could pump wherever and whenever I needed to. I did not put nipples on the bottles just a cap. They should have sterile nipples in the nicu also. Mine gave me bags and lables for each bottle also. Just fyi not sure how each hospital is. Also, make sure she is talking with a nurse that is VERY experienced in the nicu. They seem to be more real and better at not freaking you out. Trust me I have been there.

I would take everything that I pumped up to the nicu and they would freeze it so that it would stay good. They warm the milk up and feed him whichever way he is eating. Mine had a feeding tube through his nose for a long time. When I got plenty of milk up at the nicu I would just freeze it at home. I also brought everything home from the nicu when Ben came home.

The pump being sterile enough mine said just sterilize it like you would a baby bottle at home.

Food intake on her part I would not worry about. Her body is making the perfect formula for the baby. That is the amazing thing about breastfeeding.

Is the nicu very open to breastfeeding? Some are not as much as others. Please know that if she wants some more advice she can email me and I will give her my phone number. My email is [email protected]____.com You are an awsome friend and keep being there through this hard time.

J.

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K.F.

answers from Austin on

When I delivered my son at St. David's at 31 weeks, they actually provided ALL of the bottles to pump into, including lids. I was not supposed to use anything else. Each bottle and lid was only used once and then thrown away. Everything was disposable. That said, if they are allowing her to bring in her own, they need to be cleaned, then boiled, and lastly wiped dry with a clean nonlint cloth. Even then, they may or may not accept it. Good luck to your friend. My son is 5 years old now, and doing great!!!
We brought bottles pumped from home to the hospital - if you ask they will even give you a small cooler with ice packs to bring the milk back and forth (my insurance actually paid for it).
Also, because she will be using the breast pump SO MUCH (my son didn't breast feed until he was two months old because his muscles weren't strong enough and I had to solely pump for that long) that the regular pumps were inefficient and prone to breaking if I wasn't using the "industrial version". She also needs to be cleaning, boiling, and wiping dry with clean lint free cloth for the pump as well.
I was not told anything about different foods, only that if you eat something that you didn't eat while you were pregnant and your baby reacts, try to avoid it for a while. We didn't have that problem and so never had to worry about it.
Good luck to your friend. My son is 5 years old now, and doing great!!!

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J.V.

answers from Houston on

HI
Ok she can get sterilzed pre wrapped bottles from the hospital for free probably at the lactation consults office. Tx children's in houston has a milk bank right around the corner from the NICU and she can get them there.
She should be able to pump at home and bring it but make sureshe follows all the rules about how long it can be out of the fridge. She can get a little magnet from the lactation consultant with the rules on it.
As long as she bought new tubing for this kid it should be fine to use the same pump, She should also be able to borrow a pump to use while she's at the hospital so she doesn't have to tote her's everywhere. And if there were some diet limiting she needed to do they would have told her
My best advice tell the nurse she wants a lactation consultant to come talk to her asap. The nurse may not know enough about it. When I had my son the the NICU some nurses were great and were able to help as much if not more than the lact consultant but others were totally clueless about breast feeding.
hth
J.

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V.C.

answers from Houston on

Most hospitals with a NICU have a milk bank where they should provide bottles for your friend to use (usually Similac 4 oz. bottles in a three pack). This is what they provide at Woman's Hospital and Texas Children's. You can pump at the hospital and/or home and they should give you enough bottles to use both at the hospital and at home.

You should be able to bring in milk that is either cold as long as you use it in a certain amount of time (See la leche for more info) or frozen. The baby can have either. If she is pumping more milk than the baby eats, they can freeze it (in the hospital or at home) then they typically give the baby the oldest milk first.

For cleaning equipment, some hospitals (like Texas Children's) provide a microwavable bag that you can place your breast pumping equipment in (called Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags) if you want it sterilized (you can use it up to 20 times). I just wash the equipment in hot water and use soap and sterilize once a week and I've never had a problem with baby's digestive system. Good luck and best wishes...email me if you have more questions or concerns.

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K.K.

answers from Austin on

I am the mom of two preemies -- both born at St. David's in Austin. Is your friend in a hospital here in Austin? The bottles I used were provided to me by the hospital. They came pre-packaged so they were steril. They bottles fit onto my breast pump so I was not using the bottles that came with the pump (in the begging). Later as my baby got bigger and stronger and we were not as fearful, I did use the bottles that I steralized in the dishwasher. I did steralize the breast pump parts including the tubing. If I remember correctly I did this by boiling them. Yes, I did pump at home. I would bring fresh milk (not frozen) in the cooler bag the hospital provided. I also froze milk and brought it to the hospital on a regular basis. I was not careful about my diet -- and my baby was born at 24 weeks weighing just one pound. The NICU doctor even told me I could have wine on occassion in small amounts. So they were not worried (at that time) about foods harming the baby. But,I would seek the advice of the lactation consultants in these areas.

I am working to start a support program for parents of preemies in Austin. So please feel free to share my contact info with your friend if she is here locally. There is also a national Web site that I highly recommend called Preemies Today. www.preemiestoday.org. You can join for free and their have a wonderful online discussion group.

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A.D.

answers from Houston on

Having "been there" I can say that the bottles have to be sterilized before being used to store the breast milk. The pump should have been cleaned and sterilized before being used this time to pump the milk for storage. My twins were premies and I had to bring in my breast milk in sterile bottles every day. This was 32 years ago and things haven't changed much regarding the use of a breast pump and sterile bottles. My twins were 2 lbs 4 ozs and 1 lb 13 ozs respectively. The hospital gave me bottles to use and told me how to sterilize them properly and how to clean and sterilize the parts of the pump that needed to be; I would use the pump at home and freeze the milk in the bottles, which were each about 2 ounces in size,until I had to bring it to the hospital. This was done at the request of the staff of the NICU, mostly the nurses in the unit who took care of the babies. I brought in at least 3 to 5 bottles a day in the beginning and more later on because my twins were in the NICU for a little over 3 months. As it turned out almost all of the milk was given to my daughter because she could not tolerate any of the formulas that were used for the babies. My son was able to tolerate what ever they fed him, and to this day things are pretty much the same for them - he can eat everything but she is on a restricted diet. It has nothing to do with the breast milk, however, it is just a medical problem my daughter was born with. I was asked not to eat certain foods that might be difficult for my babies to digest if it got into the breast milk, and most foods that the mother eats do pass into the milk. This was especially true because of my daughter's medical problems which make it difficult for her to digest certain foods.

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M.C.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi there
I had my son at 33 weeks and he stayed in the NICU for over a month with multiple complications.

Breastfeeding is the best thing for your friend to do it will help the baby out so much

The hospital should be providing her with the bottles that are already sterilzed depending on which hospital I delivered at University Hospital and they provided me with a manual pump to take home, access to an electric pump while i was there visiting my son, sterilzed bottles with lids and stickers with his information on them, they kept the bottles there are were able to freeze them. She can also contact the lactation specialist at the hosptial to see if they will loan her a breastpump while her child is in the NICU. if she qualifies for WIC she can also contact them and they will also loan her a breastpump

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T.J.

answers from Killeen on

I have had two preemies. I know this is going to sound weird. Have her ask the nurse for the specimen cup. They are as clean as it gets. I would pump and then store them in that. They are about 3 ounces if I remember corretly. Then the nurses or her can put them in a bottle when it's time to feed him, or a nipple fits right on them as well. I would use them to store my milk in the freezer. The hospital that one of my son was at gave me 100 of them for free. Good luck with him and your friend. Make sure she ask a lot of question those nurses are there to take care of him, but also to keep the parents informed of what is going on with him.

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M.D.

answers from Houston on

What an amazing friend!! I am not too sure about premies, butwanted to say that I think as long as she purchased new tubes for her pump, it should be okay. The new ones will ensure that they are clean. There are also services for moms that include giving advice about nursing that I would reacommend she call to get good info. Or perhaps she can recruit one of the nurses at the hospital to be a "go-to" for questions like this. I know I would want to make sure my advice came from someone that I trusted and I think that would relieve any of the uncertainty about whether she has done something right or wrong. Good luck to her!!!! Sounds like what she did during her pregnancy was great to bring a strong baby into this world early.

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H.M.

answers from Houston on

I completely understand your situation I too delivered a preemie at 32weeks and also a 3lb baby boy, when he was in the NICU for a month, the hospital gave me little glass jars that had sterile water in them and I would empty out the water and pump direclty into the glass jar and then immediatly freeze the jars and keep them completely frozen until delivered to the hospital, I would also date and time stamp them so they knew which order for them to use. As far as the food just avoid spice food or any other food that is on the NO NO list when breast feeding even a normal / healthy baby. I would recomend lots of veggies and fruit things that are really healthy for her and the baby. I wish her the best of luck and from one mom to the next It will all work out and then she will look back like I have and three years have flown by and now I have a healthy typical 3 year old to keep up with.

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N.L.

answers from Austin on

Well my girls were born at 34 weeks and were in the NICU for three weeks. They have a pump at the NICU that she can use anytime and she can rent the same pump from Special Additions on Lamar. It is not recommended to re-use breast pumps. I was never able to pump enough to fill up a bottle, so I am not sure about that one. I would pump into bottles that the NICU gave me (your friend can get all the supplies that she needs from the NICU as long as her baby is still in there. She can definitely pump away from the hospital, put the milk in the fridge, and bring it in with her. This time is the most critical for her baby to be getting breast milk.

I have to say that breast milk, at least for me, was like liquid gold and it would have pissed me off for the nurse to tell me to throw it out. Remind your friend that she is the momma, and she can insit and advocate for her child.

As for not eating certain things....I would not worry about it and if the child seems to not tolerate the breast milk then she can look at her diet.

Good luck.

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S.W.

answers from Denver on

Your friend should meet with the Lactation Consultant at the hospital. It should be a free consultation. I had two premature babies and used an electric pump that I rented from the hospital and washed the bottles out each time with the soap and water in the sink in my room. I would just pump fresh at the hospital and insist that the nurses tube feed the baby with the freshly pumped milk. The first few days of breastmilk is often called liquid gold. It contains colustrum and is very imporant for the infant's immune system. Ask the nurses, but the milk she pumps at home should probably stay at home in the freezer -up to 3 months. It will not go to waste. I used Avent bottles, but there is a concern about BPA in baby bottles and some are now using glass bottles. Not sure, but I believe there are also BPA-free bottles now available. Also, ask the Neonatologist if she can switch to dairy free formula (healthier) and ask to look at the ingredient-list in the infant formula. If it contains sugar, ask the Neonatologist to order one without sugar (sugar is a chemical and it attacks the immune system) and to feed her baby her milk at each feeding (even when tube feeding). It is important your friend be very involved with your son's care and not just leave it solely to the dr and nurses to decide. Avoid any vaccines for the time being. Some hospitals let you "Camp Out"--officially check out of the hospital, but stay in a room if one is available and to nurse whenever possible for nursing mothers. My son was born at 34 weeks and was in the NIC unit for two weeks and the hospital let me Camp Out. Different subject, but make sure the nurses are rotating her baby each time they check him (will digest better). As far as food, definitely stay away from peanuts and cashews. It wouldn't be a bad idea to eliminate dairy until you are certain the baby digests it okay. Eat lots of vegetables and if she is having trouble with her milk suggply, consider taking the herbs Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. The Lactation Consultant recommended them for me and at the end of the first day, the dairy was open! Good Luck. Feel free to email me if you think of anything else. Hope this helps!

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C.W.

answers from Austin on

My daughter is now 5 will be 6 next month. She was born @ 29 weeks, 2 lbs 11oz. All I did was make sure the bottles were washed in very hot water. Not only did I use the breast pump at the hospital, my husband had rented one b/c we did not have one. I have to say the NICU never questioned me about my milk and the sterilization of the bottle. They were more worried about my daughter getting as much breast milk as possible. They insisted that I pump at home and freeze and then they would let me know when they were almost out of milk and would take more up there. I would take fresh up there when I could. I know that it was hard for me b/c she was not there. I wish your friend all the best!

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D.S.

answers from Houston on

I had twins at 25 weeks, so needless to say they were in Texas Children NICU for three months and I pumped the whole time, but slowed down towards the end.

The milk bank will supply her with bottles, so she doesn't have to reuse them if she doesn't want to. If I reused them, I just put them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two. They said this was ok....their recommendation.

Regarding the breast pump, make sure all the hoses and other equipment is brand new. I believe the milk bank/hospital can supply her with this as well. It's ok to use the same pump...I did.

I was told I could eat anything.

If she wants to increase her milk production, she can take Fenugreek. Buy it anywhere over the counter. The milk bank recommended it to me and it works.

I hope this helps. Email with any questions please.

Deborah

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L.N.

answers from Austin on

I breastfeed and donate milk to the local milk bank. I usually just clean my pumping supplies and wash my hands before pumping. But recently, the nurse from the milk bank called me to tell me that some of the last samples I dropped off had a little bacillus in it. It's on countertops and I should not get my pumping supplies or the bottles I keep the milk in get in contact with the countertops. I stopped putting the supplies on the countertops and just pour the milk into the containers and then place it in the fridge. I got the containers from the hospital and they are already sterilized so I would suggest you get them there too. If you still have problems, you can request to get a prescription for donor breast milk and try to find alternative ways of feeding your baby the milk without using a bottle.

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