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Baby Care
January 25, 2023

Breastfeeding Your Preterm Baby

By:
iMumz Expert Panel
Here are a few suggestions to get you on the winning path!
Verified by:
iMumz Expert Panel
|
Updated on:
January 11, 2023

Breastfeeding is Important

Considering the bottle? Well, we’d recommend that you try breastfeeding. Research finds that premature infants weighing as little as 1,300 grams, or nearly 3 pounds, and as young as 30 gestational weeks may be able to suckle at the breast and are more successful at it than they are with the bottle. The hospital staff will coach you on getting the baby to you. Remember, it's a long battle and you yourself are recovering from the delivery. So, get all the help you need, mum!

The baby might need to get monitored for temperature and/or oxygen changes during breastfeeding. If in the hospital, there will be an alarm set up for it.

In case you are not able to feed the baby, reach out and get help from a lactation consultant, asap.

Steps for Breastfeeding

  • Begin feeding when the baby is awake and alert. Do not try feeding to a clock.
  • To be completely relaxed, make sure the room is cosy, you are propped comfortably and your mind is at peace. Don’t let anxieties cloud your mind, anticipating problems even before they occur!
  • Get comfortable, propping your baby on pillows, supporting her head. Many new moms find a football hold comfortable as well as easy on the nipples.
  • If your baby doesn’t yet have a rooting reflex (it is very likely that a preemie won’t have it), help her get started by placing your nipple, with the areola, into her mouth. Press your breast lightly with your fingers to make it easier for her to latch on.
  • The baby will work at different paces in the session. Your breasts will take time to adjust to the baby’s suckling. At first, your baby’s suckling will be a rapid attempt to stimulate let-down. Then, as the milk is let down, your baby will slow down her suck and switch to a suckle-swallow pattern.
  • If your baby doesn’t seem interested in your breast, try expressing a few drops of milk into her mouth to give her a taste of it. A little sample might do the trick!
  • How long should you nurse? The thumb rule is that you should keep her on your breast until she’s stopped actively suckling for at least 2 minutes. Small preemies may nurse for close to an hour before being satisfied.

Many mothers share that the first few sessions are frustrating. You might be tempted to give up. You may even feel anger, frustration and weepiness. Just enlist the support of a friend who can keep you motivated. Trust us, you will succeed - just be patient.

Side-Note: You’ll be able to tell how well your baby is doing on the breast by following her daily weigh-in. If she continues gaining about 1 to 2 percent of her body weight daily, or about 31⁄2 to 71⁄2 ounces a week, she’ll be doing fine. By the time she reaches her original due date, she should be approaching the weight of a full-term baby somewhere around 6 to 8 pounds. Do keep in mind that breastfed preemies (as with term infants) will gain a little more slowly than formula-fed ones.

In the Article

Breastfeeding is Important

Considering the bottle? Well, we’d recommend that you try breastfeeding. Research finds that premature infants weighing as little as 1,300 grams, or nearly 3 pounds, and as young as 30 gestational weeks may be able to suckle at the breast and are more successful at it than they are with the bottle. The hospital staff will coach you on getting the baby to you. Remember, it's a long battle and you yourself are recovering from the delivery. So, get all the help you need, mum!

The baby might need to get monitored for temperature and/or oxygen changes during breastfeeding. If in the hospital, there will be an alarm set up for it.

In case you are not able to feed the baby, reach out and get help from a lactation consultant, asap.

Steps for Breastfeeding

  • Begin feeding when the baby is awake and alert. Do not try feeding to a clock.
  • To be completely relaxed, make sure the room is cosy, you are propped comfortably and your mind is at peace. Don’t let anxieties cloud your mind, anticipating problems even before they occur!
  • Get comfortable, propping your baby on pillows, supporting her head. Many new moms find a football hold comfortable as well as easy on the nipples.
  • If your baby doesn’t yet have a rooting reflex (it is very likely that a preemie won’t have it), help her get started by placing your nipple, with the areola, into her mouth. Press your breast lightly with your fingers to make it easier for her to latch on.
  • The baby will work at different paces in the session. Your breasts will take time to adjust to the baby’s suckling. At first, your baby’s suckling will be a rapid attempt to stimulate let-down. Then, as the milk is let down, your baby will slow down her suck and switch to a suckle-swallow pattern.
  • If your baby doesn’t seem interested in your breast, try expressing a few drops of milk into her mouth to give her a taste of it. A little sample might do the trick!
  • How long should you nurse? The thumb rule is that you should keep her on your breast until she’s stopped actively suckling for at least 2 minutes. Small preemies may nurse for close to an hour before being satisfied.

Many mothers share that the first few sessions are frustrating. You might be tempted to give up. You may even feel anger, frustration and weepiness. Just enlist the support of a friend who can keep you motivated. Trust us, you will succeed - just be patient.

Side-Note: You’ll be able to tell how well your baby is doing on the breast by following her daily weigh-in. If she continues gaining about 1 to 2 percent of her body weight daily, or about 31⁄2 to 71⁄2 ounces a week, she’ll be doing fine. By the time she reaches her original due date, she should be approaching the weight of a full-term baby somewhere around 6 to 8 pounds. Do keep in mind that breastfed preemies (as with term infants) will gain a little more slowly than formula-fed ones.

Baby Care
January 25, 2023

Breastfeeding Your Preterm Baby

By:
iMumz Expert Panel

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