Waiting to start breastfeeding your premature baby requires patience, especially if your baby was born before 36 weeks. Breast milk has a special benefit for premature infants. Premature babies are those who are delivered before 37 weeks of gestation. The mother’s milk, under such circumstances, helps in supplying important nutrients to the premature infant this is like liquid gold to your baby. These nutrients help the premature infant to not only survive but also develop a strong immunity against possible infections.
Providing breastmilk for your premature baby is one of the best things you can do. You will be guided to start trying to express some milk or colostrum in the first few days within 24 hours of the birth by your midwife. You will normally start by expressing by hand into a syringe, a nurse or midwife will show you the correct procedure and give you information on the benefits of your milk. Within the first few days you will be asked by a lactation consultant if you need any help with expressing and may offer you the service to hire an electric breast pump for home use.The express pump is generally used at home and the attachments are what you need to take with you if you wish to express in the hospital’s dedicated express room. There are also other places to hire express pumps from including the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Pink or Blue, local chemists and more.
Because expressing breastmilk is not the usual route to breastfeeding a newborn, you may be embarrassed at what you are trying to do. It may be hard to accept that you cannot feed your baby like other mothers can. You will likely feel disappointed that the cozy bond of nursing has been replaced with attachment of your breasts to a mechanical pump.
It can be hard to view pumping as worthwhile and important when these feelings enter your mind. During the waiting period regular close contact with your baby can have a positive effect on your milk supply. It may also be helpful to have a photo of your baby or a piece of your babies clothing nearby, and focus your thoughts on your baby whilst you express. Stimulating an effective let down reflex can be one of the hardest parts about expressing. Many things can interfere with this process especially tension, fatigue, shock, strong emotions like anxiety, embarrassment, grief, anger or depression. Many of these feelings occur together when a premature birth happens and frustration at having to express rather than breastfeed often compounds these emotions.
Some mothers produce an adequate supply of breastmilk, and a few produce more than enough, others struggle to express sufficient for their baby’s needs. Talk with the lactation consultants available at the hospital about ways to increase supply. As time passes, some mothers find that their milk supply drops because they have practical problems that prevent them from expressing often enough. You can increase your supply, especially in the early weeks, by increasing the frequency of expression.There are also natural remedies you could try or even medications which your doctor can prescribe you if nothing else works and you wish to continue providing breastmilk. If you are producing large amounts of breastmilk you can freeze bottles of milk in your freezer so you will have milk readily available in case your supply diminishes or your baby is ready to take larger amounts of milk – try not to waste your milk if you are producing a large amount.
Your baby can benefit from receiving their own mother’s milk even if it is not directly from the breast. You will look forward to the day when you can put your baby to the breast & when the time is right a nurse will help you put your baby to the breast. At first your baby may only nuzzle the nipple or take just a few sucks at a time. For many mothers this is a time when they can feel a letdown and helps to boost their supply and it will make up for the many days, weeks or months of expressing you have endured. If you only express for a short period of time due to lack of milk supply or by choice or months on end just remember that you did the best that you can for you and your baby so feel proud.
Baby Centre – 2007
The subject matter provided in these articles is strictly for informational purposes alone and should never be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Please ALWAYS contact your doctor if you ever have questions or need advice in any area where medical advice is needed or medication is suggested.