Is it possible to successfully breastfeed your premature baby? It is, when you are armed with the correct knowledge and expert advice brought to you in this article…
Most parents are aware of the many advantages of breastfeeding full-term babies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. Breastmilk is the gold standard nutrition for babies and has a wide range of benefits including increased immunity for baby, enhanced bonding between mother and child, and decrease in risk of breast cancer for the mother.
If you are a mum of a preemie however, you may be wondering if all these benefits for full term babies still hold true or if breastfeeding your little delicate one is still possible. You’ll be happy to find out that the answer is “YES”.
In this article, we review the clinical benefits of breastmilk for preemies. We also invite Mrs Wong Boh Boi, Senior ParentCraft Educator of Thomson Medical Centre, to weigh in on tips for successful breastfeeding for preemies.
Your breastmilk is still best
Breastmilk is an incredible source of food for any baby. It is tailor-made to suit your child’s nutritional needs and will keep changing according to your little one’s changing nutritional requirements. As the mum of a preemie, it’s no different when it comes to your own breastmilk.
Your body knows that your baby was born prematurely, and as such, will make milk that is more suitable for your little one’s increased nutritional needs.
According to a large and established body of research conducted by experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, La Leche League International (LLLI) and the National Health Centre (NHS), UK, preterm breastmilk will actually be higher in most nutrients such as protein, fat, calories and other micronutrients — with the exception of calcium and phosphorous — than the milk of a full term baby’s mother.
However, within a few weeks, the nutritional content of a preterm mother’s breastmilk will be closer to that of a term mother’s breastmilk.
Your breastmilk also plays an important role in protecting your vulnerable preemie from infections, by providing him with immunoglobins (antibodies). With a full-term pregnancy, immunoglobins are usually transferred across to the baby via the placenta in the final trimester of pregnancy, according to neonatal experts.
What is human milk fortification and how can it help your preemie’s nutrition needs? Find out on the next page.