Media Feature On BMSG: The Unexpected – Breastfeeding The Premature Infant

BMSG – Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group is a vibrant community of breastfeeding mothers who find emotional support, encouragement, companionship and information in the organization.

We are honored to share our experience of breastfeeding an extremely pre-term with them. Read on! The original article appeared on BMSG website.

Image courtesy: BMSG website

15 years ago, Shubhada Bhide did not know that her daughter would arrive 3 months before her actual due date. The experience was a test of her resolve. But as the founder of parenting and lifestyle sites RainbowDiaries and SocialMediaMomSG discovered, breastfeeding was ultimately what helped her baby thrive during those difficult times.

BMSG: Hi Shubhada, thanks for speaking with us today! 

At BMSG, we are all about supporting mothers with the right information about breastfeeding right from birth. Sometimes, babies may arrive earlier than expected. Could you share with us what it was like on Day 1 when you suddenly realised your baby was going to be born early?

Shubhada: Everything was going well until the gynaecologist told us that since the length of my cervix was borderline, there were high chances of a pre-term birth. I had to undergo emergency cerclage surgery and was put on bedrest. We were hoping to complete the full term but it was not meant to be. My elder daughter arrived in this world 3 months earlier than her due date.

Shubhada’s daughter, Eeshaa, at pre-school around 1.5 years of age.

BMSG: What are some of the things parents need to consider when thinking about breastfeeding a preemie baby? We know it is strongly encouraged for preemies to receive only breastmilk because they are still very small.

Shubhada: Well, it’s a different experience altogether. In my case, the baby was just 768 grams and was on oxygen support in NICU. It was impossible to even think of breastfeeding directly. But yes, the paediatrician insisted on breastmilk because it’s an elixir for babies, especially preemies. The paediatrician started by giving my baby 3 ml of expressed breast milk through tube-feeding and gradually increased the quantity.

BMSG: How did you decide how much was needed for your baby’s daily feeds at that time? Did the doctor or the lactation consultant guide you along during those days?

Shubhada: It was a tough journey and we had to adapt to the ever-changing health scenario of my preemie. The paediatrician advised us that our baby had to be fed a certain quantity of expressed breast milk every 2 hours using a spoon since she didn’t have strength to latch or use a bottle. We switched to an on-demand approach only when she turned 6 months old and had started achieving milestones like normal babies her age.

BMSG: A lot of mothers may also struggle with expressing breastmilk in the early days. Do share with us what helped you a lot during those challenging times.

[Stock Photo: Having a premature baby can be challenging but finding information and remaining positive were what helped Shubhada in her journey.]

Shubhada: It was a roller coaster ride for me as a mother because every day was a new challenge. I didn’t even have the time to understand what was happening with my body. I couldn’t directly latch my baby for the first few months and had to express breastmilk. It was a painful process but I happily endured it since I knew every drop counted to help the preemie to become stronger.

The rock solid emotional support of husband and family members, as well as my faith in the Almighty helped me to navigate through the crisis. Also, keeping positive and taking care of my own health did a lot of magic.

BMSG: Were you able to receive donations of breastmilk for your baby? Currently, there is a KKH Milk Bank in operation, but this did not exist when your baby was born.

Shubhada: Fortunately, milk sharing was an option that time. When my daughter was born, things were so topsy turvy that I couldn’t get any BM for the first 2-3 days. That time, some NICU moms offered their BM for my daughter since their babies were quite critical to drink milk or they were on formula. I believe that those moms played such a crucial role in providing necessary nutrition to my baby. I can’t thank them enough.

[BMSG NOTE: Please note that practices may differ now and parents are encouraged to check with hospitals on the protocols for milk sharing for premature infants. For more information on milk sharing by the KK Human Milk Bank, click here.]

[Stock Photo: Many premature babies grow up healthy and meet developmental milestones just like other babies.]

BMSG: Could you tell us what else that preemie parents should take note of about the stay in the NICU?

Shubhada: When your expectations of having a healthy full-term baby are dashed, it’s never too easy! Seeing your child fighting for life in NICU is the biggest crisis parents can ever face. Having gone through that phase, I would tell other parents to believe in doctors and medical technology, and also in yourself. Remain positive because your baby will feel these vibes.

Remain positive because your baby will feel these vibes.

Shubhada Bhide, on facing her premature baby being in NICU after being born 3 months early.

BMSG: Were you able to latch your baby eventually? Could you share with us how you transited to latching?

Shubhada: Yes, from she was around 5 to 6 months old, we managed to start direct latching and continued for a few months after that. I started using the cradle position because she was bigger at that time. Prior to that, I used to express breastmilk and then either fed her breastmilk in a bottle or fed her with a spoon.

BMSG: How was it like for your baby, growing up? What are some of the things that you have realised about breastfeeding and raising a premature baby now that your child is already a teenager?

Shubhada: The first 3 years were rather challenging. Having been a preemie, my daughter was always severely underweight and we had to monitor her health very closely. Fortunately, she gradually achieved all her expected milestones without much delay. Personally, I strongly feel that continuing her on breastmilk during the initial months played a big role in boosting her immunity and growth as she grew.

Eeshaa and her mum Shubhada trying their hands at creative activities.

Like our article? Donate to us to help us fund our operations to continue providing free breastfeeding counselling and resources to mothers! Do also join us in our 30th anniversary fundraising event!

Do you require breastfeeding support?

If you have unexpectedly birthed prematurely or require breastfeeding help in any way, contact us on the following channels for complimentary mother-to-mother breastfeeding counselling or affordable workshops conducted by our trained volunteer counsellors:

– Hotline / WhatsApp: +65 6339 3558
– Facebook Counselling (Private Group)
– Mum 2 Mum Virtual Counselling Sessions
– Breastfeeding Workshops

BMSG is an official charity and we are constantly seeking donations to continue providing free breastfeeding counselling and programmes for breastfeeding mothers and their families. Donate to us today!

Once again we thank BMSG for this wonderful opportunity to share our experience and we sincerely hope that it will help many who are in the similar boat.

Thanks for your continued love and appreciation for our media. We love to collaborate with brands and we love to get feedback from our readers. Did you check our platform “SocialMediaMomSG” for mompreneurs, local brands and ladies?
Drop a line on [email protected] / [email protected] or Click here to get in touch with us. Happy to connect!