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Breastfeeding Success After Preemie in NICU

By guest blogger Reve P.

breastfed baby in the nicu

Our son was born at 31 weeks and 4 days gestation after I was on hospital bed rest for 2 weeks in preterm labor.  Thankfully, his lungs were well-developed due to steroid shots I had received and he did not need to be intubated.  We were told his major hurdle would be learning to feed. I was breastfed as a child and was determined to breast feed my own children.  I began pumping immediately. We allowed the nurses to give our son a pacifier to help him learn how to suckle and to strengthen his oral muscles.  On his third day of life, they began feeding him my milk through a feeding tube.  Thankfully, I produced very well and quickly built up a large supply.  I continued pumping around the clock.  It was so hard to pull myself out of bed at night when the alarm I set went off but I knew it was best for my tiny baby.  I can proudly say he never had formula! At 10 days old, I got try breast feeding him for the first time and it was simply amazing! We both instinctually knew just what to do. He did so well right from the start. I went to the hospital for every feeding during the day and my son continued to get my milk through his tube at night.

breastfed baby

He spent 25 long days in the NICU and finally got to come home on valentine’s day! How perfect?

He continued to breast feed for 28 months and weaned himself when I became pregnant again.  I am so proud of both of us! Being able to nourish my babies solely through breast feeding is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life! I want other NICU mothers to know that not only can they breastfed premature or sick babies, it’s especially important for their health and development!

Nikki's boys

(My 3 yr. old preemie & his new baby brother)


  1. Sara Richmond says

    Congrats! I had a similar experience with my first, who spent three weeks in the NICU. He wasn’t a great feeder the first few months but caught on and we stuck with it together! Hard work but totally worth it! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I just delivered at 31 week baby 2/18/15. She has been in the nicu now going on 17 days. She is just starting to cue but inconsistently. I am very much hoping to breastfeed her and hope we can be successful at it. I have some pretty high anxieties about it though. I have great milk supply bc I have been pumping around the clock. I have a huge supply stored already so she has only had breast milk since they started feeding her.

  3. NatesMommy says

    This is great congrats mama! It’s so encouraging to hear of other NICU mom/baby pairs who continue for 1, 2, even 3+yr. I also had spontaneous preterm labor and delivered at 32+6. My little guy was very strong and healthy from the start, spent 31 days in the NICU mostly as a feeder/grower. I was also determined to breastfeed and pumped from the beginning. I built up a big enough stash even to donate 50oz to a baby in our mom’s group who’s mommy passed away at 4mo pp. I had some anxiety about supply issues at first and again when I cut back on pumping at 12mo, but kept telling myself however long we went, every single drop counted and I wouldn’t be hard on myself. Fortunately it never became an issue, never even had to supplement. He’ll be 15mo next week and we’re still going strong! I’m so very proud we have made it this far, and neither of us are looking to wean anytime soon. 🙂

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