According to the March of Dimes organization, approximately 380,000 babies in the United States are born prematurely each year. March for Babies is a prematurity campaign that aims to address the persistent health inequities and rising rate of preterm birth in the United States. Every year between April and May, millions of people march to fight for the health of all mothers and babies or choose to participate in the annual cause through research, education, and community engagement. Imalac is a strong advocate of the March of Dimes and other organizations’ that to promote awareness of preterm birth and how to prevent it. One such organization is Mamas of the NICU, and we are honored to share Founder Bianca Dottin’s inspiring story of giving birth to two premature babies, for our blog series: Getting Real About Breastfeeding.
Get to Know Bianca
Bianca Dottin is a lifestyle blogger, NICU mother, and founder of Mamas of the NICU, a non-profit organization created in honor of her preemie son, Tristan. She has a degree in Communications from the University of Central Florida and is passionate about traveling, eating good food and spending time with her family. On her blog, she enjoys sharing personal experiences and recipes, as well as tips and reviews on travel, style, and beauty. More importantly, Bianca’s blog is a place to inspire mothers to create a life they love! She created Mamas of the NICU to educate friends and family of NICU mothers, serve as a safe place to share their stories, and allow them to seek comfort, guidance, knowledge and understanding from other supportive NICU mothers.
Thank you again for allowing us to tell your story. Please share a little bit about your journey with our readers:
I have an 8-year-old daughter, Tatiana, who was also born before her original due date and is technically a preemie. Then while trying to conceive Tristan, it took around nine months before getting pregnant, which was much longer than we had expected. Once we did find out about the pregnancy, we were so excited. I had to spend 13 weeks on bed rest during my pregnancy and had gone to the hospital several times in preterm labor, however I was able to be stabilized every time. I was not aware of the anomalies Tristan had prior to him being born and as far as pre-delivery and my prenatal care, there was nothing we could have done to prevent the anomalies he was born with.
My husband had decided to drive up with some friends to Florida State University for a football game and of course, this was the day Tristan decided he wanted to come into the world! Within 30 minutes of arriving to the emergency room, I gave birth to Tristan in triage. When he was born, he did cry, but shortly after, Tristan’s trachea collapsed, and he had stopped breathing. He was rushed to the NICU, but I had absolutely no idea what was going on at the time. The nurses told us they did not want us to worry, especially since I was recovering. I was finally able to get a hold of my husband at the game and he immediately headed back to Orlando.
We had spent several months in the NICU as they discovered additional anomalies in Tristan. It was hard for our families, including our daughter, who could not really understand why Tristan had to remain in the NICU. But being able to help with child care, meals, and other small things helped keep her positive of the situation.
What is your advice to fellow moms?
I strongly think preparing yourself for what could go wrong is essential. Things happen all the time when you least expect it and as a society, we can do a better job of preparing ourselves in advance for a lot of things. Women are at high risk for conditions such as postpartum depression, so whether it’s seeing a doctor or mental health specialist, we as moms must stay prepared. I completely understand the reason as to why we would be scared to do this, however, for those who are thrown into that reality, it can be really hard to swallow all at once.
What is the primary goal of Mamas of the NICU?
When we were first there, my friends and family didn’t understand the severity of being in the NICU. A lot of people in our circle thought he would stay until he reached full term and then would come home, but for us that wasn’t the case. They had no clue of the mental, physical, and emotional toll that being in the NICU takes on a mom.
My husband and I were determined to give back and educate others on what life with a child in the NICU entails. We introduced Mamas of the NICU through a line of products that aims to assist friends and family with understanding on what NICU moms go through and provide support to moms, so they understand that they are not alone.
What kind of resources and content do you offer to educate others?
For friend and family support, we offer a lot of “Dos and Don’ts.” For example, how to say the right things and not hurt feelings, and also how they can be of help.
A lot of our information does come from social media. A vital part of our line of support to Mamas of the NICU is a Facebook group where past and present moms of the NICU will share information with each other. Many of these women have or are currently in very similar situations, like when they have similar conditions or their babies were at the same birth weight. Even from across the country, these moms are able to connect and create a sense of community with one another, so they know they’re not alone.
As a NICU mom, how did you go about breastfeeding?
I did exclusively pump for five months, but then I just could not keep up with how fast he was growing. What really helped me during that time was keeping pictures of the baby nearby when pumping, making sure to stay hydrated, and eating lots of healthy foods. Once I was able to finally accept it, we used supplemental formula with Tristan and he accepted that very well too.
To learn more about Mamas of the NICU, visit Bianca’s blog (click here). Imalac is based in Miami, Florida and would like to spread awareness on how to locally participate in the fight to reduce premature births. To find a walk near you or see dates for March of Dimes in the Miami-Dade/Broward County area, please see here. You may also join the virtual walk at any time on any day. Stay connected with Imalac on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.