It can be a challenging time in many ways to have your baby placed in the NICU. It isn’t the new beginning that a new mother had hoped for when she pictures her precious cherub entering the world! Dr. Alan Greene, a practicing pediatrician and the author of Feeding Baby Green offers some helpful suggestions to families whose young infant has been placed in the NICU. There are things that the new mother and her supporting family members can do to that can make a difference – as outlined below. For more information, please visit Dr. Greene’s website.

Helpful Tips for the New Mother Whose Infant Is in the NICU

By Dr. Alan Greene

1) Breast milk is a powerful gift for babies in general, and all the more so for babies who start life in the NICU. If possible, it’s well worth the effort (for your baby’s health and for your own).

2) Many babies in the NICU can’t feed by mouth yet. Others can take oral feeds, but aren’t strong enough to nurse. Others could nurse but need extra fortification mixed with their feeds. In all of these situations, start pumping and saving breast milk as soon as practical.

3) Ask to see a lactation consultant, even if you’re not ready to start pumping or nursing. This could easily fall through the cracks in a NICU, so don’t wait, ask. They’ll be glad you did. (So will you and your baby!)

4) Be sure the containers you use to store and feed breast milk are free of BPA and phthalates — like all of the products made by BornFree. This goes for the pump and tubing too. BPA and phthalates act like hormones. No one benefits from being exposed, but this is especially true for vulnerable babies.

5) Hold your baby when you can, as appropriate. Skin-to-skin contact, also known as “kangaroo care” is even better. Sometimes the only contact may be a brush of your finger, but even that can be powerful.

6) Get the rest, food, support, and help you need for yourself. You deserve it. And it will help your baby too. Airplane instructions remind us, in the event of an emergency, to put on our own masks first, and then help our children. This wisdom applies to the NICU. First taking care of yourself helps your baby (and your milk supply) in many ways.

These NICU days may seem very long right now, but they will end and soon become a memory. Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of these unrepeatable moments.

Dr. Greene is a practicing pediatrician, the author of Feeding Baby Green, and the founder DrGreene.com. He is a Founding Partner of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, and on the Board of Directors of The Organic Center, and on the Advisory Board for Healthy Child, Healthy World. Intel named Dr. Greene the Children’s Health Hero of the Internet.

Dr. Greene is also affiliated with BORNFREE, BPA-Free feeding products for babies. BornFree’s bottles combine naturally with breastfeeding as the natural shape of the silicone nipples allows baby to alternate easily between breast and bottle. For more information, visit www.newbornfree.com.