How do preemies breastfeed?

Slowly. Depending on how premature they are, premies may receive their initial feeds through a nasogastric tube. Receiving pumped breast milk instead of formula is helpful for preventing infections and intestinal complications of prematurity. As the suck-swallow coordination matures, they learn to breast feed and bottle feed.

Related Questions

Is it possible to breastfeed a preemie?

Yes. It's actually, most of the time, the best way to feed a preemie. Ones who need a feeding tube still benefit from breast milk and intimate contact even if they can't actually suckle. Read more...
Yes. It's even more important to nurse a preemie! you might need extra support, and might need to supplement, but it's a great idea to try! Read more...
Yes. Not only is it possible, often breastfeeding a premature infant is the ideal solution. Besides providing ideal nutrition, breastfeeding also provides antibodies to protect the infant from infections. All breastfed infants are recommended to take vit d supplements and premature infants who are breastfed are recommended to take iron supplements and sometimes a breast milk fortifier. Read more...

What is the best way to breastfeed a preemie?

With Love & Patience. Aside from the technical challenge of breastfeeding, per se, you may have to navigate related challenges, like 1) stress of the nicu experience itself. 2) unexpected setbacks. 3) ever-changing nicu staff, with different personalities, expectation, & comfort levels. 4) tubes, wiring, monitors, etc. 5) less-than-private nicu nursing environment. 6) maintaining your supply... (see "tips" for more). Read more...
Kangaroo Care. Even if your preemie can't nurse yet, ask the nicu staff about kangaroo care. This allows for skin-to-skin time. Assuming your premie isn't too fragile, the warm touch of a parent is healthy for his emotional state, and kangaroo care promotes infant-parent bonding. It can also serve as a source of encouragment and re-invigoration for parents amidst the often stressful nicu experience. Read more...
Pump Often. Even if you can't put your baby to the breast, and even if your baby is taking only a small amount of milk, pumping will help maintain your supply, and it may give you some milk to spare. Freeze any extra milk for future use. Read more...
Latch when Empty. If your premie has trouble latching, practice latching after pumping. Often times, it's easier for a baby to latch when the breast is not as full. Eventually, your baby will figure out how to latch on even when you're full. Read more...
Make Practice Runs. Practice latching when your premie is not hungry, ie. After a feeding. Latching is a learned skill, and sometimes babies will show more patience--and will actually learn faster--if they're not so hungry. Read more...
Take Care of You. Remember to take care of yourself. In order to produce adequate, rich milk, your body needs a lot of energy. You just delivered a baby, and you're dealing with stress of having a baby in the nicu. Make sure to eat a well-rounded, robust, and healthful diet, yourself. Read more...
Football Hold. Being "scrunched" can make it harder coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing. The football hold allows your preemie's body to remain stretched out. Using a pillow to support your premie can also help. Read more...
Lactation Consultant. This is what they do best. Out of the hospital, their services can cost upwards of $60 per hour, but in the hospital, it's included. Utilize the hospital lactation consultants whenever possible. Read more...
Nursing Staff. Nicu nurses are some of the best you'll find. Highly dedicated & exceptionally well trained, they also have a lot invested in your premie. Still, they have different comfort levels & different personalities, good days and bad days. Show your appreciation for the nursing staff and maintain a good rapport. They can become your best nicu advocates and they'll help you reach your breastfeed goals. Read more...

What is the reason they are pushing me to breastfeed a preemie?

Antibodies. There is no better nourishment for babies than mother's milk. Additionally, doctors call colostrum "liquid gold" because it is so rich in antibodies for natural immune protection -- which no infant formula can provide. Read more...

If I had a preemie, should I breast feed? He is too tiny to drink from me.

Absolutely. You should pump the milk to use until he is old enough to suck from the breast.It is still the best way to feed him. Read more...
Yes yes yes. Your breast milk is the best formula for your baby. The hospital may fortify your breast milk depending upon the prematurity. But definitely use your breast milk for your premature infant! Read more...