If your baby has been born prematurely, you should do everything you can to breastfeed your baby.
In fact, the more premature your baby is, the more essential it is that your baby gets your breast milk.
When your baby is premature, she may suffer from a variety of different conditions.
Providing optimal nutrition is one of the best things you can do to help your baby get better.
The first milk you produce is colostrum, a thick, pale yellowish substance which contains a lot of immune factors; this can help your baby keep from becoming ill.
Breast milk is also easier to digest, which makes the process of eating easier on your baby’s already stressed body. Providing breast milk for your premature baby is not only better for her health, it is a good way to do something positive for your baby when it seems like there are few positive things you can do to make a difference.
Some premature babies may be so weak or so premature that they cannot be able to nurse from your breasts.
If this is the case, rent a hospital grade breast pump from the hospital where you delivered and pump your breast milk for your baby. Find out from the nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) how often you should be pumping and bringing milk to them.
Be sure also to ask the hospital’s lactation consultant to work with you to make sure you are pumping correctly and doing everything you can to maximize your milk production. It is almost impossible for you to produce too much milk for your child.
The NICU and lactation consultant can work together to help you know exactly what procedures you need to follow to make sure your milk is safe for your baby. Be patient; pumping breast milk is harder than nursing.
One of the reasons that breast milk is so crucial for premature infants is that a mother’s body produces milk specifically designed to provide what her baby needs.
The breast milk you produce when your baby is born prematurely will be different from the milk you would have produced had your baby been born full term.
As your baby grows, your milk will continue to change and adapt to provide your baby exactly what she needs for the stage of growth where she is.
As your baby grows stronger, she will be able to make the transition from tube or syringe feedings to nursing. Ask if it is possible to avoid artificial nipples so that your baby does not develop nipple confusion.
Ask the nurses and lactation consultant to continue to work with you. Learning how to breastfeed your baby is different from learning how to pump breast milk.
Your baby will also be learning a new skill as well. Be patient with each other, and you will both soon get the hang of it.