Connected through breast milk: western Sydney mum shares her preterm birth story this World Breastfeeding Week

Bille-Lee, baby Ethan and Blacktown Hospital newborn care infant feeding registered nurse Kylie Peach,

After four years of trying to conceive naturally and one round of IVF, Billie-Lee and her partner Ryan finally received the exciting news that they were going to have a baby.

Although the pregnancy news was joyous, the pregnancy itself was very long and challenging with many appointments, clinic visits, growth scans, blood tests and hospital admissions.

Billie-Lee was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a shortened cervix (requiring a stitch), pregnancy induced high blood pressure and was required to stop working at 11 weeks.

As time went on, Billie-Lee’s high blood pressure stopped her liver and kidneys functioning as they should, and her baby stopped growing.

Although the pregnancy was stressful, Billie-Lee knew she had to “stay strong” for Baby Ethan who was delivered via caesarean section at 32 weeks at Blacktown Hospital.

Billie-Lee spent a brief time with her newborn son, who weighed in at just 1460 grams, before he was transferred to Westmead Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Although Billie-Lee was physically separated from Ethan, she expressed colostrum (first milk) for her son with the assistance and guidance of Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital clinical midwifery infant feeding consultant Lisa White and infant feeding registered nurse Kylie Peach.

“I was excited to be able to express colostrum for Ethan and after I went home, I still got up through the night as though Ethan was with me, so that I could pump and provide him with the milk that he needed he next day,” said Billie-Lee.

I am very grateful to all the nurses and midwives at both Blacktown and Westmead hospitals who supported me and gave me the information I needed.”

Ethan is now one month old, weighs 2.15 kilograms and is almost ready to go home with his parents.

World Breastfeeding Week 2022 runs from 1 to 7 August and serves as a reminder that we all have a role in protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. This year’s theme highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and inequality.