Premature babies and breastmilk

breastfeedingMany premature or sick babies cannot feed from the breast right away.  They’re  not strong enough or mature enough to grasp the suck, swallow, breathe process. However, the benefits of breast milk, including protection from many diseases, may be especially crucial for these babies. A recent study found that very premature babies who received breastmilk soon after birth had higher mental development scores at 30 months and were less likely to be rehospitalized than premature babies who did not receive breastmilk. Breastmilk, however, may need to be supplemented to meet the nutritional needs of small premature babies.

For babies unable to suckle for the first week or two, moms can use a breast pump to express their milk so that the milk can be fed to their babies through a tube or with a dropper. By pumping her breasts, a mother keeps up her milk supply so that her baby can breastfeed when he is stronger.

Don’t be discouraged if it’s time to go back to work and you still want to breastfeed.  You can pump at the office and continue to provide your little one the best food possible.

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4 Responses to “Premature babies and breastmilk”

  1. March of Dimes reminds moms: Breast milk is good for premature babies | Pregnancy and Baby Blog @ Says:

    […] a post on the March of Dimes site reminded moms of premature babies that if it’s possible, provide your baby with breast milk, […]

  2. Amy Perkins Says:

    My twin boys were 9 weeks early. I began pumping as soon as I could but didn’t get to actually breastfeed for 6 weeks. Once they learned how (took practice and a lactation consultant at the hospital) they did great. They spent 7 weeks in NICU. I did have to add formula to the breast milk in a bottle once or twice a day for a few months for extra calories. We kept it up for 14 months then weaned to a cup.

  3. Jen Says:

    Yes! It can save their life! I know at times if feels hopeless and you might get one tiny ounce a day, you might cry through the actual pumping every time. But to that tiny baby, every ounce counts from their Mom. Every. One. I even went days without pumping and got it back an ounce a day. You can do it!!!! They can not duplicate breast milk. I used the pump alone for 5 months. I had a 25 week micopreemie with terrible odds. She is 7, healthy, smart and here today. Do not let yourself give up.. If one ounce a day is all you can give, give it.

  4. Carol Ann Sandell Says:

    My daughter was born 12 wks early weighing 1lb 14oz. I pumped every 3 hours for 5 months until she finally latched and breastfed. I then pumped for another year every six hours so she could have bottles of breast milk when I was at work. I had enough breast milk stored that even after she stopped breastfeed at one year, I was able to provide BM until she was 18 months old. She is now almost six and a half, a first grader, reading at a second grade level, playing piano and a happy thriving girl.

    I wanted to give up pumping so many times, especially when I struggled for an ounce…but I focused on how an ounce was more valuable than gold…and it was.