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

Supplying Your Preemie’s Breast Milk by Pump

The day after I gave birth to our 29-weeker, my milk was overflowing.  I will never forget the embarrassment I felt as visitors came in to find my pajamas soaked and me totally unaware.  We immediately called the lactation nurse, and I had my first experience pumping breast milk for my preemie.  The round of nurses who stopped by to congratulate me on the two nearly full bottles of breast milk I achieved during that first pump had me a little embarrassed.

The following day was the first day I was allowed to leave the hospital to visit my preemie who was in another hospital across town.  When I was able to hand over the breast milk I had been pumping religiously to Roxy’s NICU nurse, I was so proud of myself.   Pumping breast milk for my preemie at that time felt like the only thing I was able to do for my daughter.  I was unable to change her diaper, feed her, or hold her; only just barely touching her was allowed.  But supplying her food?  That I could do.   I loved being able to do that for my preemie.

As Roxy got bigger and began bottle feeding, I assumed that the next step would be attempting to breastfeed.  I was looking forward to – and hoping for – that connection with my baby.   I was wrong.  It wasn’t until a week before talk of Roxy coming home began that I was allowed to try.  I failed miserably.  We listened to nurses, got advice from friends, and tried and tried again.  By the time Roxy did come home, it was clear that she was not going to latch and breastfeeding was not an option.  We were bottle feeders!

Even though I was disappointed that I was not going to be able to breastfeed my preemie, I had tried my best and I was still able to produce milk for her.  My love/hate relationship with the breast pump kept us with a freezer stocked with breast milk until Roxy was six months old.   At that point, our pediatrician had no problems with her beginning a complete formula diet.

My only regret is that I didn’t ask to breastfeed earlier, or question why I wasn’t told to at least try.   Would Roxy have latched if we had tried earlier?  I will never know because I didn’t question it.   I learned that you can’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and your preemie.   I failed to advocate for me or Roxy by not asking to attempt breastfeeding and not questioning the lack of encouragement from nurses.

Did you battle to breastfeed your preemie?  Any tips or tricks for new preemie parents?

Samantha Pridgen About Samantha Pridgen

Samantha (KY) is the mother of Roxy, a micropreemie turned preschool princess. Roxy was born at 29 weeks weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces. Now a healthy 4-year-old, Roxy has no long-standing complications from prematurity. Samantha writes about her family as well as Roxy's early arrival and prematurity at Mommy to a Princess. You can also find Samantha on Twitter, Facebook, or email her at samanthap@mommytoaprincess.com.


  1. My son Luca was born at 26/5 weighing 1 pound 13 ounces. I immediately began pumping after delivery. His one major complication is lung disease of prematurity. We were permitted to try nurisng multiple times but he would aspirate due to his respiratory challenges. We made the painful decision to have tracheostomy surgery at 3 weeks adjusted. I continued pumping throughout. Luca has a trach, is vent dependent, has a G-Tube and exclusively breastfeeds everyday. It has taken a lot of effort to get to this point but has been a wonderful gift for us both!

  2. I had a 3lb 3oz 34 weeker. He was bottle fed while in the NICU. I was allowed to try and breast feed after two weeks in but he loved the easy flow of the bottle. I tried and tried; I think every NICU nurse and lactation consultant in that hospital had handled my breasts! Lol. This was my first, so I’ve never breast fed before. We eventually had to give up and just pump. I wasn’t blessed with an over abundance of milk so I had to pump every meal and that barely supplied for that one meal. I made it to 6 months, but couldn’t go any farther. My body had begun losing the supply. Now he’s a healthy 9 month old on formula. 🙂

    I wish I had advice to breast feed, but I never worked it out. 🙁 Hopefully my next will be more successful.

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