Skin to skin and early feeding is very significant for building your milk supply. Mothers who feed within the first six hours have more milk at Day 5 than mothers who do not. However, for mothers who’s babies aren’t breastfeeding, early expressing and pumping will still make a big difference*. Here’s an inspiring story that illustrates this.
I saw this presented as a poster at the 2014 Elacta conference in Copenhagen. (European Lactation Consultants Association). Patricia Knook, an IBCLC in Amsterdam, was the presenter for this poster. She is glad to share this story with more families.
A woman was pregnant with twins. She had been diagnosed with HELLP, a syndrome that is “a variant of preeclampsia”. At 33 weeks 3 days, she gave birth to the twins. They were born vaginally and were healthy (though early). The mother however, went into distress. She became unconscious and was put on a respirator, staying in the Intensive Care Unit.
The father knew that breastfeeding was important to the mother. He suggested that they start pumping milk, even though the mother was unconscious. The staff considered it and agreed. They had no idea how this would work out.
They began pumping within five hours after birth. The staff and the father took turns pumping every three hours. By Day 3, the mother was producing 70 ml of milk each session. That is two and one third ounces of milk each session. Every day, one twin was brought to rest, skin to skin on the mother’s chest, even though the mother was unconscious and on a ventilator.
By two weeks of age, the mother had recovered, thanks be to all. And how wonderful, she was able to exclusively breastfeed both her babies, continuing to exclusively breastfeed both until they were twelve months old. May that inspire you in your breastfeeding endeavors.
Timing, and proactive support, is critical. Most babies start breastfeeding on their own. If in the early hours, the baby is not breastfeeding, the family and health care providers can still take advantage of this important time.
Isn’t it amazing how your body knows what to do? We’re designed to provide for our babies.
*Click here for videos by Dr. Jane Morton, at the Stanford University Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Maximizing Milk Production” explains how the early initiation of hand expression and pumping build an abundant milk supply.