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Breastfeeding A Preterm Infant

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Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding a Preterm Infant

Babies who are born preterm, have a special need for breastmilk and skin-to-skin time. Providing milk either by breastfeeding or pumping can benefit your babies overall health. Learn below ways breastfeeding can be beneficial.

Benefits of Breastfeeding a Preterm Infant:

  • Your milk provides important nutrients and immune factors that make a BIG difference in the health and development of your baby.
  • Your milk helps protect your babies immune system as the immune system is developing.
  • Breastfeeding will likely look like spoon feeding, cup feeding, bottle feeding, and or tubefeeding of breastmilk due to babies immaturity.

Skin-to-Skin With A Preterm Infant:

Skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, is a biologically normal practice. It is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


Importance of Skin-to-skin with a NICU baby:

  • It promotes bonding.
  • Parents can be nervous holding a very tiny baby. Skin-to-skin can help you become more comfortable holding and caring for your NICU baby.
  • It provides for earlier initiation of the first breastfeeding experience.
  • It will help stimulate your hormones that help increase milk supply.
  • Can reduce maternal stress and postpartum depression which can occur due to the separation.
  • Builds confidence.

Pumping With Preterm Infants:

  • If you baby is not strong enough to feed at the breast, you can still give them your milk. Pumping your milk as soon as possible after birth will help increase your milk supply.
  • If your baby is NICU, you can ask the hospital for a hospital grade pump, if not available, you can ask your local WIC clinic.