Supporting Pumping Moms in the NICU: A Guide for Dads and Partners
By Milk Stork Team on November 29, 2023
Pumping breast milk in the NICU is a demanding task, and as a dad or partner, you play an essential role in supporting pumping moms through this journey. From the pressure to maintain a consistent pumping schedule, establish and maintain a sufficient milk supply, to navigating the roller coaster of emotions like guilt, frustration, sadness, and exhaustion—the need for support has never been greater. This guide offers practical ways to provide assistance and emotional support to pumping moms in the NICU.
1. Understand the Role of Breast Milk in NICU Care
First and foremost, understanding the value of breast milk for a NICU baby is crucial. It’s packed with essential nutrients and antibodies that are vital for your baby’s growth and immunity. Sharing that mental responsibility with your pumping partner is critical. Knowing that you understand the importance of breast milk, the effort that goes into expressing it, and appreciate the physical feat that is, goes a long way.
2. Assist with Pumping Schedules
Help support your pumping partner set reminders for her pumping schedule. Consistency is vital for maintaining milk supply, but often one of the most challenging aspects for NICU moms who are simultaneously juggling a work schedule. Download a feeding app or sync to her breast pump’s app to help track pumping times and amounts.
3. Offer Emotional Support and Encouragement
Emotional support is invaluable. There will be days when all of it just seems overwhelming, yet mom will still have to pump through the tears and exhaustion. Always be there to listen, encourage, and empathize. Emotional well-being is essential for both mom and baby.
4. Help with Breast Milk Management
You might not be pumping breast milk, but there are many ways that you can assist with the process. Engage in tasks like washing pump parts, organizing breast milk storage and transport to and from the NICU, and ensuring the availability of pumping supplies like snacks, nursing pads, and breast milk storage bags. This practical support is invaluable in managing the breastfeeding journey. Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the milk’s nutritional value, especially for preemies who need as much breast milk as mom can produce.
5. Attend NICU Visits Together
Whenever possible, attend NICU visits as a team. It provides emotional support for your pumping partner and allows you to be involved in the baby’s care and medical discussions. This shared experience strengthens your partnership and family bond.
6. Stay Informed and Communicate Proactively
Stay informed about your baby’s condition, treatment plans, and what that means for your partner’s pumping schedule. Keep an open line of communication with healthcare providers to stay updated and make informed decisions together. Educate yourself, research what you don’t know, and do what you can to lighten the mental load.
Teamwork Makes the Journey Easier
Navigating the NICU is a challenging experience, but teamwork can make it more manageable. By offering practical and emotional support, dads and partners play an essential role in the NICU journey.
Check out our curated collection of solutions for NICU Parents here.