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Breastfeeding Premature Baby

 Here are some important facts about breastfeeding your Premature Baby


  • Breastfeeding is good for all babies but it is even more important for premature babies.
  • The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends a mother breastfeed for at least the first year of the baby’s life.
  • Breastmilk contains the right amount of nutrients for your baby.  Breastmilk composition is made special for your premature baby. 
  • The antibodies in Breastmilk will help to protect your baby’s immature immune systems and help to keep him healthy.
  • Breastfeeding your premature baby is a very rewarding experience and can improve your baby’s outcome
  • If you cannot breastfeed right away don’t worry that breastfeeding will not work.  It will and you can pump your milk until it is time for you to feed at your breast,
  • Every drop of your milk is important for your premature baby. 

Skin to Skin Contact

When your baby is born prematurely you may feel helpless and uncertain about the future.  This can be a scary time for families.  Many babies can be held skin to skin on your chest as soon as they are stable.  This can be done before they are ready to feed.  It will help you to produce more milk but even more importantly it will help your baby grow and develop.  Holding your premature baby skin to skin will help to stabilize your babies breathing, heart rate and temperature. This is something you can do to help the medical team care for your baby.  Daddy can do it too. 


Tips for you

  • Get a pump from the hospital as soon as possible and begin to express your colostrum.  This milk is perfect for your baby and will come in very small quantities at first.  Every drop is gold!
  • Work closely with the hospital staff and let them know you will supply milk for your baby. The baby may not feed right away but they can store your milk for when he is ready.
  • Once your baby is ready to start feeding at the breast take as many opportunities as possible to be available for feeding and holding.
  • The first feeding may go slow.  Take your time and don’t rush things.  Your baby may first smell you and then lick your nipple.  It may take a few tries before he actually latches.  He may latch and tire easily.  It will take time to get feeing just right. 
  • Work with the hospital Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant as often as possible. 

When Home

When you first bring your baby home you may feel nervous and uncertain.  Don’t worry you will catch on real quick and begin to relax as your baby gains weight. Breastfeeding may not be the only way you are feeding your baby.  If the doctor recommends supplementing for weight gain, ask the following questions.

  • How long will I need to supplement?  Remember this is usually temporary and exclusive breastfeeding can occur once the baby is gaining well.  If you are supplementing with artificial milk make sure to continue to pump after each feeding.
  • Can I supplement with my milk instead of formula?  In this situation you would pump milk and feed it after breastfeeding.  This is a great way to ensure a great milk supply.
  • How much weight should my baby gain per week? This is good to know because you will be able to watch your baby’s improvement and feel strong.

Don’t forget to ask for help if you need it.  An Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant can help you get it just right for you and your family!

Courtesy The Foundation for a Breastfeeding Culture