Giving your baby your breastmilk is the one important thing that ONLY you can do for your premature or sick baby. Your breastmilk is good for your baby’s health and nutrition.
Breastmilk has nutrients and infection-fighting antibodies that newborns need to grow and develop. This is especially important for premature or critically ill babies.
You can give your breastmilk for a few weeks or you can plan to breastfeed your baby when your baby is ready.
Even small amounts of your breastmilk will be good for your baby’s health.
Giving your breastmilk to your baby will also help you to form a special bond with your baby.
Breastmilk is easy to digest, which is very important for premature babies or babies who have had bowel surgery.
There are substances in your breastmilk that help protect your baby from developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This can be a very serious bowel infection that premature babies can get.
Breastmilk helps prevent allergies from developing in your baby.
Breastmilk helps protect your baby from illnesses, like colds, ear infections, and respiratory infections.
Premature babies who get breastmilk grow up to score higher on IQ (intelligence) tests than premature babies who get formula.
Ask your nurse to help you start pumping with a hospital-grade electric breast pump as soon as possible.
Pump both of your breasts at the same time, at least eight times every 24 hours. Pump for 15 to 20 minutes each time.
Put any saved milk into the collection container. Label it and send it to the hospital for your baby.
When you are discharged, ask for information about renting hospital-grade electric breast pumps, or ask about renting a pump when you arrive at Nationwide Children’s.
When you come to see your baby at Nationwide Children’s, ask your baby’s nurse to show you where the breast pumps are and how to use them.
Your baby’s nurse will show you where to get collection bottles for your milk and where to store it.
Lactation consultants at Nationwide Children’s can help you in your efforts to provide breastmilk for your premature or sick baby. Ask your baby’s nurse to help you contact them.