Building Milk Supply in the NICU

The emotional and physical exhaustion of being a NICU mom is one of the most difficult experiences you will face on your journey of being a mother. Here are five tips to help you establish your milk supply while your baby is in the NICU.

  1. Hand express within the first hour after birth

In the instance that your newborn preemie needs to be separated from you  immediately after birth, it is very important to hand express to help initiate milk production. NICU moms who hand express within one hour of birth are known to have a more abundant mature milk supply in the days and months following.

  1. Pump/Hand Express in proximity to the baby or during Kangaroo Mother Care

When you begin pumping in the NICU, it is very beneficial to pump in proximity to the baby or while skin to skin during kangaroo mother care. This contact with the baby helps to stimulate oxytocin, which is the hormone that moves the milk and is responsible for the let down. 

  1. Massage while pumping 

Using the Hands on Pumping technique, or incorporating a product like The Nurture Breast Massager, has many benefits! Massage while pumping helps stimulate oxytocin as well, and increases the rate of expression to pump more milk, faster. The more fully you empty your breasts, which is easier with massage, the more milk you will make, the longer you will be able to go between feedings/pump sessions, and it will help to prevent clogged ducts, engorgement and mastitis.

  1. Power pump 

Power pumping is a technique where you pump in a manner that mimics cluster feeding.  Cluster feeding is when a baby nurses on and off while at the breast, making the body THINK it needs to make more milk, in turn building supply. You can achieve the same results by power pumping, which is pumping for 20 mins, breaking for 10, pumping for 10, breaking for 10, and so on, until you are empty, making your body think it needs to make more milk.

  1. Make sure to pump as often as a newborn would be nursing 

Newborns nurse around 10-12 times a day, or every 2-4 hours in the first few weeks/months.  In order to establish/build/maintain your milk supply, it is important to pump as often as your newborn would be nursing.  This will help you establish your milk supply and help prevent clogged ducts, engorgement and mastitis!

We hope these tips are helpful. Comment below if any of these tips work for you, or if you have other ones to suggest!

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