Active Duty Military Mom Exclusively Breastfeeds Premature Baby

This active duty, Air Force, military mom is nothing short of the term “badass breastfeeder.” Her story will encourage you to overcome any and every obstacle that you face on your journey through motherhood!

My daughter was born at 27 weeks 5 days in May 28th @ 1128. She rigged 2 lbs 1.5 oz, dropping to 1 lb 13 oz after birth. I had an emergency cesarean section, so it would be hours before I even saw my little girl.

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I was in a German hospital and they were extremely pro breast milk. After I had seen my daughter for the first time (around 5 that evening), I was brought an electric breast pump to force my milk in. I may not have been able to nurse right away like I had imagined, but I knew all I wanted her to have was breast milk, and so began my journey. Every 2 hours I was up pumping for my little girl. The NICU need at least 40 mL each time since they pasteurized the milk. In between sessions, I would walk down to the NICU and try to squeeze in a nap. I was able to do skin-to-skin when she was 2 days old.

 

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By then I was producing 4-6 oz per session. She was only eating 1mL per feeding. Every few days, her feedings increased. At 29 weeks, she began to show signs that she wanted to nurse. I asked when I’d be able to. First I was told 30 weeks, then it was 32 weeks. She couldn’t suck, swallow, and breathe yet so I had to wait. They did, however, let her try a bottle. She did amazing, but nursing was still off the table. We stayed at the German hospital for 28 days and she gained 19 oz during her stay. At 31 weeks 5 days, she was then stable enough to transfer to the military hospital. Once again, I kept asking when I’d be able to breastfeed. This time I was told 34 weeks. I just wanted to nurse my baby. She was telling me she was ready. The formula fortified bottles smelled awful (and I’m sure she felt the same). Why wouldn’t they listen?! At 32 weeks, they let us start with non-nutritive sucking. I would come in just before her feeds, pump then put her to breast. It was like she’d been doing it from birth.

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 photo by Charming Memories Photography

She had a deep, strong latch. Compared to her bottle feeds, it was amazing how well she would eat. I had to pry her off usually. We finally got our way. By 34 weeks, they were letting me nurse 3 times daily. We got her to do half of her feedings orally. By 36 weeks we had got her to take all her feeds orally. All we had to do was wait for her to stop having Brady-Desats. 6 days before her original due date, at 6 lb 5 oz, it was time to go home! That weekend, my strong little girl decided she wanted nothing to do with formula and everything to do with straight breast milk. I went through another period of engorgement. She’s constantly gained weight since.

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At her 4 month well baby check, she weighed in at 8 lbs 11.5 oz. ALL BREAST MILK!! I have about a 900 oz stash. While I’m on leave, I’ve chosen to exclusively breastfeed her. I still worry whether she’s getting enough or not, but when I see her gaining weight, it reassures me and my decision.

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 photo by Charming Memories Photography

 

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