My Breastfeeding Chronicles and How to Support NICU Moms
posted by: Amber Johnson
I was prepared for a lot of things when I became a mom. I had read practically every baby book published and my baby was more stylin’ than the Kardashians thanks to Grandma who’d been buying clothes for years in anticipation of her first grandchild. What I was not prepared for: Guantanamo Bay-level sleep deprivation and The Breastpump (in caps).
I’d planned to breastfeed my kids but hadn’t anticipated what a roller-coaster ride it would be. Despite countless lactation consultations in and out of the hospital, neither of my kids ever latched on and I was left feeling frustrated and defeated that I’d never have those tender moments of my child nuzzling up to me.
Enter: The Breastpump (still in caps). While in the hospital, I was presented with Medela’s latest innovation in hospital-grade electric double pumps that remove as much milk as a breastfeeding baby. If you’ve ever overproduced milk, you know engorged breasts are detention-camp-level-torture (as you can tell, my transition to motherhood with my colicky daughter was not a smooth one).
I took one look at the breastshields, valves, bottles, membrances, tubes and bottles and incredulously asked “You want me to do what with those?” Though overwhelming at first, pumping breast milk became a daily ritual. I rented a pump from the hospital but also bought a smaller electric Medela Breastpump that was more portable.
I also supplemented my daughter with formula and one of my first lessons in motherhood is that there is no ideal. Ditch the guilt and do what feels right for you and your child.
Medela Recycles: How to Donate
When both of my kiddos were ready to wean, I had no idea what to do with my pump and found myself attached to what had allowed me to provide sustenance to my babes for so many months. I didn’t have any friends who were nursing and I worried about donating it for sanitary reasons so in the end, it probably ended up in a landfill.
The good news? Thanks to the “Medela Recycles” program, you may now properly recycle your personal-use pumps while positively impacting another mom’s breastfeeding journey. All pumps recycled through the Medela Recycles program will go toward a donation of hospital-grade Medela Symphony Preemie+™ Breastpumps and breastfeeding supplies to the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The goal is to provide moms with the same high-quality equipment they use at the hospital during their stay at a Ronald McDonald House. The Symphony Preemie+ Breastpump help infants’ mothers establish a milk supply to provide their own breastmilk to their premature babies.
To kick off the campaign in Colorado, I was honored to tour the RMHC’s spacious 47-room facility in Aurora. This home-away-from-home for so many families whose children are being treated at the hospital is brimming with beautiful, touching artwork, zerbras, dinosaurs, a trainset, a playhouse, Broncos-themed room for teens and a play area for younger kids. Add a computer room, library, kitchen, family rooms and “a store” where they can checkout games and videos for free and it’s tough not to get choked up over this facility that is 100 percent powered by donations and love.
Volunteer Diane gave us the tour and when I asked how she became involved, she confided, “Not to sound weird or anything but I felt like I was called to be at the Ronald McDonald House. I passed by it on my way to work every day and knew this is where I needed to be.”
Some families stay for only a couple of nights. Others are there for months on end. I was even more committed to help spread the word about Medela Recyels when I learned that nearly nearly 40 percent of the families served by RMHC are caring for babies in the NICU. By making Symphony pumps available at Ronald McDonald Houses, mothers have the ability to pump while resting to restore the energy needed to focus on their baby in the NICU and give families caring for a baby in the NICU one less thing to worry about.
Following Medela’s presentation of hospital-grade Medela Symphony Preemie+™ Breastpumps and breastfeeding supplies, a mom of five approached us. “I’m pregnant with my sixth baby and I have to tell you how much this donation means to me,” she shared. “I had a difficult time and couldn’t breastfeed because it was too painful. I was relieved to have access to Medela’s breastpumps. For my last baby, I pumped for six months and was able to feed her with my milk for 12 months. I’m so grateful.”
Medela hopes to recycle 12,000 Medela breastpumps through this initiative that also reduces solid waste and helps protect the environment. Moms that are ready to part with their pump can visit the Medela website where they can print out a pre-paid shipping label to send their pump to Medela. Medela will then send all eligible breastpumps to a third-party processing center where they will be broken down and all recyclable parts will be recycled appropriately. To help Medela reach its goal, please visit www.medelarecycles.com and help spread the word!
Breastfeeding Moms in the News
Maybe it’s just me but breastfeeding moms seem to be everywhere in the media this week! Who’s the Boss star Alyssa Milano responded to her haters in a new interview and said she has zero regrets about sharing this breastfeeding photo on social media with these sweet sentiments to her newborn daughter, “Happy Birthday, my beautiful Elizabella. You’ve taught me that my heart has no end. You were the missing piece to my soul. Thank you for choosing me.”
This picture has gone viral of a group of active duty Army soldiers at Fort Bliss in El Paso posing for a photo while breastfeeding their babies in uniform.
The Texas-sized response to this beautiful photograph is a reminder we’re all in this together.
RMHC photos: Laura Hatch Photography. In partnership with Medela Inc. All opinions are our own.