Saturday, October 29, 2011

Coming Home from the NICU - essentials

For those of you who are preparing to bring your little one home from your long NICU stay I thought I would share what supplies and baby items we had waiting at home, and what I would do slightly different in hind sight.

The normal baby essentials:
  • 6-8 receiving blankets
  • 1-2 warmer blankets
  • 6 burp cloths, I used a package of cotton cloth diapers which worked great
  • Plenty of diapers and wipes- we purchased cloth diapers and covers
  • 8-10 newborn size gowns and one piece comfy outfits
  • onesies
  • socks
  • hats- depending on the season
  • infant car seat 
  • place for baby to sleep
  • place to change baby - a bed works fine too!

For a preemie:
  • Preemie size diapers depending on your little one's weight - Gwendolyn came home at 4lb 9oz /17 in.
  • a few preemie size outfits up to 6 lbs - I only had 5-6 and this was enough
  • a foam wedge to raise head when sleeping - I cut a crib size one in half to use in 2 places
  • a car mirror (this was essential for me since Gwendolyn was on oxygen and a feeding tube)
  • a night set-up next to sleeping area; soft light, diapers, wipes, feeding supplies, etc...
  • A double portable breast pump - my favorite is the Medela freestyle and it worked just as good as the hospital grade Medela's I had been using. I pumped for 13 months.
  • /
  • A place for baby to sleep - with a 45 degree wedge
  • a sound machine or sound CD - one I recommend is below in the amazon link
  • A stroller and car seat combo - for those long visits to the Doctors
  • An infant car seat with a good insert for supporting the head and body
We had originally planned on sleeping close to our baby and this decision only intensified after having a preemie. I could not imagine having Eleonora sleep in another room at night especially with all of her medical equipment. How we actually made this work will be coming soon... with details.

And a good carrier to wear your little one:

Instead of my ring-type sling (which I did love) I would purchase one with a bit of shoulder padding. The Maya Wrap sling is a good quality choice
available from Amazon as well

Looking back I wish I had a knit wrap-type carrier like the following:
 The Snuggly Wrap (similar to the Moby and Sleepy Wraps)

I had a Didymos guaze wrap-type carrier that took some work to put on when she was little but I did use it quite a bit that first winter home - especially when walking to her doctor appointments in the cold.
available on Amazon

When Eleonora got to be about 15 lbs I started using the Ergo Baby carrier and this has been a purchase well worth the cost. We have loved it and still use it at 27 lbs.
/ - I purchased mine from
there is also an infant insert available on

These are the basics of what we had ready and ended up using - along with all of the medical equipment and oxygen we needed to have.
I am somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to baby items and what worked for me may not at all be what is right for you of course!

I would love to hear what you considered essential in those first weeks with your preemie at home.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

392 days of Pumping

Or I could just say 13 months before I HUTH. Yes, I had to chuckle yesterday when I read that there is even an acronym for ending pumping "Hanging Up The Horns" - don't ask me who made this up!

But before I go into my story of EPer (being an exclusive pumper), I want to share a list of everything that I believe helped me to be able to continue that long, especially in the early weeks when I was  practically living in the NICU and trying to increase my milk supply production which was a struggle at first.

1. Start pumping ASAP after birth

2. Don't be discouraged when you only get 2 drops of colostrum (and yes, our NICU was amazing because they gave these 2 drops to Eleonora - even sending a nurse up to my floor to get it for her believing it to be so important!)

3. Pump literally every 3 hours around the clock (from the beginning of 1 pumping to the beginning of the next)

4. Use a hospital grade pump and have a lactation consultant make sure you have the right size shields

5. Drink lots and lots of water and eat 3 good meals a day (easier said then done)

6. Buy a pumping bra so you can have your hands free - this was essential for me

7. Look into taking Fenugreek capsules

8. After 6 weeks contemplate going one 5 hour stretch at night to get at least 4 1/2 hrs of sleep straight.

9. Call and see how your baby is doing during those lonely night pumping sessions

10. Pump for at least 15 minutes each session- but up to 20 or more, making sure you get every last drop

11. Talk to other NICU Moms to know you are not the only one doing this

I was blessed to have incredible support from my husband, encouraging me in moments when I really thought I could not keep doing this and to have his understanding when everything we did centered around my next pumping session really kept me going.

Be encouraged that it should get easier as the weeks go on and know that you are doing an amazing thing for your baby/babies!

What tips and suggestions have helped you in your pumping journey? I would love to compile a longer list to share at some point.