Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

The Power of Breast Milk for a Micro-preemie

Jackson weighs 2lbs today!My micropreemie has officially gained 100 pounds!   When he was in the NICU, our very sweet NICU nurses and staff would make Jackson cute little hand-made signs out of construction paper and affix them to his incubator each time he gained a pound.  I vividly remember the day I walked in and saw from a distance the first sign on his incubator that read, “Hip, Hip Hooray….Jackson weighs 2 pounds today!”   He was almost a month old when he hit that first milestone.

There was very little I could do to help care for my tiny, medically fragile child during his first few weeks of life.  But I knew providing breast milk was the most important thing I could do to ensure his continued growth and development.  I took my job seriously and no one has cried harder over spilled milk than this mama when I knocked over an open bottle after spending half an hour pumping.  In the beginning, Jackson consumed just a few ccs of milk at each feeding, but, I knew each tiny drop boosted his immune system and provided critical nutrients for his development.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and we applaud the efforts of all the organizations that work hard to educate new moms about the benefits of breastfeeding.  We know it is best for babies – especially those born preterm or with a special healthcare need.  But, we also acknowledge that many moms are unable to produce milk and are so grateful for the efforts of nonprofit Milk Banks across the country and the thousands of donor moms who ensure all babies have access to this life saving liquid gold!

I was determined for Jackson to breastfeed and was relentless in seeking the best advice, lactation consultants, positioning devices and nursing aides.  It was exhausting, but my efforts paid off and I was lucky to be able to successfully breastfeed Jackson after more than five months of pumping exclusively.

Jackson in 2014Today his diet consists of bacon double cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza and Oreos.  Thank goodness he also likes salad, steak and fish!  I could have never imagined such an appetite all those years ago when I worried over each tiny morsel I could cajole my picky toddler to eat.

If it would not embarrass him to the point of never speaking to me again, I would gladly affix a banner to our front door today that says, “Look at Jackson thrive, he now weighs 101.5.”   But maybe that would have been better than sharing it on our blog for thousands to see.   Shhhh…don’t tell on me!

Kelli Kelley About Kelli Kelley

Founder, Hand to Hold - Kelli D. Kelley (TX) is the mother of two preemies – Jackson born at 24 weeks in 2000 and Lauren born at 34 weeks in 2003. She is the founder of Hand to Hold, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated providing support and navigation resources to families who had a preemie, who had a child in the NICU or with a special healthcare need, or who experienced loss. She has experienced the emotional fallout and isolation that having preemies often causes. As a direct result, Kelli has dedicated her life to offering hope and sanctuary to all parents who have had similar journeys. Contact her via email.


  1. The milestones just keep on coming, don’t they? 🙂 I can’t imagine Addie EVER passing 50 pounds!

  2. Yes! Somewhat similar story. My son was born 26w 5d weighing 1 lb 13 oz. We had a 151 day NICU stay. Main complicaiton was CLD. He went home with a trach and G-Tube. I exclusively pumped for SEVEN months before getting Luca to successfully latch on while still trach/vent dependent. He nursed for six months exclusively during the day and received breastmilk via G-Tube feedings at night. We transitioned to bottles in June. It’s bitter sweet because he’s a big boy and that’s the natural progression but when you work THAT hard to breastfeed it’s really difficult to let it go. He will have the trach removed in one month and GT in two months. Yay! Kuddos to you and all NICU Mamas!

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