Whether they had considered breastfeeding before their baby’s birth or not, moms of patients in CHOP's Harriet and Ronald Lassin Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) reflect on why they made the decision to pump milk for their medically fragile children. Hear their stories.
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The Power of Pumping
Mother 1: I wasn't initially going to breastfeed because... I know it's natural, but I was kind of, weirded me out a little bit.
Mother 2: Before Charlotte was born, I had thought about breastfeeding and was excited about doing it. And then I found out she was sick and I wondered what that would mean.
Mother 3: We knew that he would be hooked up to a ventilator as soon as he was born and would not be able to nurse. So in order to achieve that goal we started off by pumping.
Mother 4: That was the only thing I could do for her, and that was the answer for us. That was the one thing that would keep us connected even though we couldn't be connected.
Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC: Pumping, expressing milk for the baby, is the one thing that the mom has control over. Each day that you pump, you are making a new daily dose of vaccine for your baby. That's powerful.
David A. Munson, MD: Maternal milk is the safest milk to provide to a sick baby in the NICU. It prevents infection. It prevents illnesses that affect the infant's intestines.
Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC: When you talk about the science and really understand the science of human milk versus formula, that's when you can really understand for a NICU baby why it's so important.
David A. Munson, MD: Whatever proteins and antibodies and white cells and other things that exist in mothers' milk protect the babies from getting infections early in life. Babies who are fed breast milk just do better.
Mother 5: Well, I didn't really expect to have to learn to pump until I went back to work or something like that.
Mother 2: I was afraid it might hurt. I was afraid that it wouldn't work.
Mother 4: The first couple of times that I didn't get anything I was pretty much being -- I was scared.
Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC: Being in the NICU is like a roller coaster, and it's really scary. As a mother, only you have the ability to make a milk that is especially tailored for your baby.
Mother 5: It is nice to know when I leave here this is the one thing that makes me feel like a mom. Even if he's not eating right now I can still provide milk for his future.
Mother 4: I can't feed her because of her intestinal issues, so pumping is the only thing I can do as a mother.
Mother 2: When I saw those bottles lined up and I knew that they were for Charlotte, and I knew that they were helping her heal and get better, it became rewarding and almost instantly gratifying. Today, I'm so happy to say that Charlotte is an active and beautiful toddler. And when you meet her you would never, ever know that she was sick. Providing breast milk for Charlotte absolutely played a huge role in her healing.
Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC: You have the power to pump for your baby to make milk that is a medicine for your child that is going to help your child be the healthiest that your baby can be.
David A. Munson, MD: We just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it helps babies develop better. And so if that's something that you can provide to your child, why wouldn't you?
Related Centers and Programs: Breastfeeding and Lactation Program