Premature babies - Transcript
If you’ve given birth to a baby prematurely, so your baby has been born before 37 weeks gestation, I’m sure that you will be feeling quite anxious and concerned about the next few weeks and months. It really can be a roller coaster ride of emotions. Coupled with this you may also be recovering from surgery, as well as trying to work out what is going to happen in regard to breastfeeding and getting your milk supply established, with a baby who may or may not be latching at the moment.
So I feel it’s wonderful for you to know that your breast milk is still really important for your baby – and yes, it is possible to provide that milk, even if your baby isn’t latching right now. Breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby, and it’s very easy to digest. It’s also going to provide, (even from the first drop of breast milk that your baby gets), a
So not only will breast milk strengthen your baby’s gut, it also causes less strain on your baby’s kidneys too, and as your baby has been born preterm, your breast milk is very much like colostrum – very low volume milk, packed full of high protein, an excellent source for your baby, and really helping your baby to develop healthwise, and development wise too.
If you can’t give your fresh milk, the next best milk is your frozen breast milk. After
It’s also great to know that breastfeeding mothers who produce an oversupply, are donating their milk to the milk banks, and donor milk is then also available for babies. Please be encouraged to know that even the smallest amount of breast milk that you produce at the beginning is useful to your baby.
From 32 weeks gestation premature babies have the capacity to latch on at the breast and suckle and swallow, but not all of them will do that. We know that some
Meanwhile, pumping your milk will enable your baby to get the milk while he is practising too. If you are pumping your milk, your baby may be fed via a small nasogastric tube that will help your baby to get that milk, even though he is not attached to the breast and suckling. Some special care units encouraged soaking a cotton wool ball with breast milk and just having it in the isolette with the
So if you are pumping your milk because your baby isn’t attaching right now, or maybe doing a little bit of suckling, but not enough to get all the milk that your baby needs, then ask the staff to help you, with a hospital grade double pump. You can pump every two to three hours (no more than 10 to 15 minutes at each pumping session). If you can pump once at night, that is ideal, to keep up that supply, and your body will start to make milk in the way that your baby
Another beneficial thing that you can do with your baby is to do what they call kangaroo care – that means skin to skin with your premature baby, as long as he’s stable. Even if he’s attached to monitors, the staff can help you to do this, keeping your baby very close. I’d encourage you to look at the video and gain knowledge around what skin to skin can do for your baby.
I do also want to mention that the skin to skin has great potential to increase your milk
Even if skin to skin isn’t routinely encouraged in the particular hospital where you and your baby are, you may still be able to ask the staff to enable you to spend some time in that close contact with your baby, however minimal that may be.
Many babies born preterm start to display those pre-feeding behaviours, and often latch on better and get more practice at it when they do in skin to skin. As your baby begins to breastfeed, little by little, we know from studies that premature babies are far more stable and less stressed when they’re at the breast, than they would be if getting milk from a bottle.
We also know that their temperature is more controlled, and their oxygen levels and their heart rate and breathing – all of these things are more stable. Try not to be discouraged if your baby is only taking only really short little feeds, as long as you’re pumping your milk, then you’re keeping that supply up, and giving your baby all the practice. So it is literally, little by little.
It may be that you help your baby by hand expressing a little bit of
While your baby has been in the special care
A lot of
So prepare yourself, and know that it will take a bit of adjusting to get your baby back to the breast, totally, and to get away from that more regimented pattern – but it is possible, and seek out that skilled support from people who are skilled in lactation, who can support you.
As well as seeking out this skilled support, make sure that you do have people around you, friends and family who can support you in this, and give you as much rest and time with your baby as possible. Also, seek out support at your local breastfeeding
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V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020
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