When Elizabeth Hayne saw her triplets, she was in love and also acutely aware of the development her babies still needed in the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. Born at nearly 32 weeks old, the babies relied on support from family and medical staff, as well as nourishment from mom.
“I never thought about not breastfeeding them because I knew all the great benefits breast milk would provide them; it was a no-brainer for me,” said new mom Elizabeth Hayne. “What I had no clue about was how challenging the whole process would be. It has certainly been a journey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
“I first ask mom how she is doing. It is a priority to know how mom is feeling before we talk about goals for breastfeeding/breast pumping,” said Liz Maseth. “I give moms a step-by-step explanation of what to expect and how babies learn to breastfeed. If the mother needs to breast pump then we discuss the importance of breast pumping early (within the first 1-2 hours after delivery) and often (8-10 sessions per day) because it is the only way to make the milk baby(ies) need. Together, we come up with solutions that mom is able to do and I help support her decision.”
For Elizabeth, getting the babies on a routine was key to her success.
The Akron Children’s NICU uses the MY NICU BABY app from the March of Dimes to assist moms in tracking successes with their milk supply, feedings, wet and stool diapers. With triplets, Elizabeth also had to find balance beyond feedings.
“I’ve had to come to terms with what my breastfeeding journey looks like compared to what it may have been with just one baby and that’s okay,” said Elizabeth. “I do nurse them on occasion during the day, but my journey is more of a pumping journey than a nursing one.”
Whether through nursing or pumping, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for approximately 6 months after birth. The APP notes that breast milk supports baby’s nutrition needs and immune system, while research has linked breastfeeding to decreased rates of lower respiratory tract infections, severe diarrhea, ear infections, obesity, and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Today, the triplets are home and healthy, where Elizabeth continues to get support.
“My family is very supportive of my decision to breastfeed and knows feeding them is my number one priority,” said Elizabeth. “Breastfeeding requires you to really plan your entire day around either pumping or nursing so my husband and mom have really been a big help…it really does take a village!”
Liz also still checks in on Elizabeth to make sure everyone is doing well.
“I certainly needed Liz’s support during the start, but knowing I have someone to rely on if I need something now is emotionally relieving and helpful,” added Elizabeth.
While each mom’s breastfeeding goal or circumstances is different, Liz gives all of her moms the same advice.
“Take care of you,” said Liz. “It’s important for moms to reduce stress and eat and sleep right to maintain their milk supply, but if mom finds she has increasing anxiety, signs of depression or just not feeling herself, she needs to let her nurse or baby’s doctor know.”
As the triplets continue to grow and thrive at home, Elizabeth’s advice to any new mom is just to be patient and forgiving with yourself:
“Breastfeeding is by far a much more challenging journey than I ever guessed, but just know you’re doing the best for your babies and they will love you for it no matter what!”
Learn more about Akron Children’s Breastfeeding and Lactation Program and other resources to support a mom’s breastfeeding journey.