You may or may not have decided to breast feed your baby before you gave birth but it is even more important to try and feed your premature baby yourself. Breast feeding will give your newborn the best start in life and is easier for their tiny stomachs to tolerate. Breast milk will also help protect your prem baby from infections.
Your prem baby may not be able to feed from you directly at first, but you can try to express your milk by using an electric or manual pump. You will need to express frequently to encourage a good supply, ready for when they are ready to start feeding from you.
It can take a little while for your milk to become established, this is normal for mums of premature babies. This is because the hormones that encourage your body to produce milk begin in the later stages of pregnancy and if your pregnancy has ended early, then this stage will have been cut short. Don’t worry it will happen it just may take a bit of time.
Expressing your milk can make you feel under pressure but you must remember that any amount of your milk, big or small, will benefit your little one.
For the first feed remember how easily your prem baby becomes tired so don’t expect them to have much. They need to learn how to suck, this can be encouraged by touching their lips or jaw might help. It can also help to encourage the milk flow by massaging your breasts and expressing a little prior to attempting to latch your little one on.
When feeding your little one, you need to support them with a specially shaped support pillow, which will not only help you both be comfortable, it helps to position them to latch on easier.