A pre-term delivery is definitely unnerving! There is simply no denying it! Pregnancy and delivery itself are highly intensive functions, but pre-term delivery is something more than normal delivery. Most often, the baby’s organs are not fully developed, there is facial hair, and the skin is slightly transparent making the underlying veins visible. Nevertheless, try and relax because amazing survivor miracles of pre-term babies happen every day!
Arranging a good facility
However, you should also make sure to find a good facility. Just having the latest state-of-the-art equipments is insufficient. You will particularly have to make sure that the facility allows breastfeeding even when the baby is pre-term. It is totally a myth that babies from early delivery cannot be breastfed. In fact, given the amazing benefits of breast milk, you actually increase the chances of baby’s survival.
In addition, you need to ensure that the facility just does not keep the baby in incubator all the time. The mother should be allowed to provide skin-to-skin comfort to the baby, also known medically as Kangaroo Care. It is a recognized medical practice, but unfortunately not all facilities recognize it. You may need to convince your doctor. Print out credible resources online to make your point. Naturally, breastfeeding and Kangaroo care go hand by hand.
Of course, sometimes it may not be possible practically because the tiny baby cannot generate even the muscle tone to suckle. Even then, you can still provide the nutrition of breast milk. The facility will instruct you on how to use a breast pump and supply the nutrition by a nasogastric apparatus known as gavage.
Benefits of breastfeeding in brief
Breastfeeding entails amazing physical and emotional benefits. Any doctor will recognize that in medical care, the patient’s will to heal/survive is as important- if not more- as the medical procedures. In fact, this willingness makes survival stories so very special. It is totally wrong to assume that babies are mindless beings with no willpower. As anyone with a decent medical experience will tell you, will to survive is totally a subconscious effect, and little sleeping babies are always dreaming (or are in the subconscious state).
Your baby still feels the comfort of being close the mother’s body, and this sense of relief helps him to survive automatically. Really, the emotional benefits of breastfeeding are not less of a mystery if you think! Obviously, it is also very relieving for the new mother to hold the baby close. In fact, new moms are also vulnerable to infections, and the baby’s touch offers them the willingness to defeat the disease as well.
Breastfeeding for babies born before 28 weeks of gestation
Babies born so early can also be breastfed. However, most of the times pre-term babies before 28 weeks have fully undeveloped organs. It is easy to understand why. If the baby was in womb, the same actions would have happened inside you! Breathing problems are common issues in babies born so early than their times and they are usually put on ventilator support. So, you would not be able to hold on close to the baby all the time.
Nevertheless, check whether the clinic allows you to provide breast milk, which is the natural food made especially for your child. The clinic will arrange such that the milk enters drop by drop in the baby’s stomach instead of providing too much food to digest at the same time. Excess food is also not allowed as it can be difficult to adjust for the baby. You can pump in the milk and that will be given to the baby.
Do remember that your preterm baby does not need a feeding bottle to learn breastfeeding! This is totally a misconception but unfortunately many clinics still tell parents that their babies will be discharged as soon as they learn to hold a bottle. The newborns can latch on the nipples quite easily, and you will not even need a nipple shield after a few weeks.
Breastfeeding for babies born between the 28th and 32nd weeks
When the baby is born between the 28th and 32nd weeks, mothers can actually breastfeed them better than the babies born earlier. Then again, it also depends on the unique health condition of the child. However, it is fully wrong to believe that artificial nutrition is better than breast milk. The special nutrition for pre-term babies is definitely healthy and is good alternative when the mother cannot produce breast milk, but there is nothing better than breast milk. Ever.
Breastfeeding for babies born between 32nd and 37th week
Babies born in this term are relatively stronger than the ones born earlier. In fact, you may be able to take the baby home after only a few weeks at the intensive care unit. Consult best breastfeeding practices with your doctor. While it is true that babies may need fortifiers in addition to breast milk, it is not something carved in stone either. Just the natural milk should be sufficient.
Breast milk is special for pre term babies
Pre-term breast milk is actually special from the usual milk. It consists of higher protein concentrates and components for immunological protection. The milk from a mother is actually tailored by nature for her baby, so to say. It is easy to digest and assimilate. In addition, do remember that many mothers may not be able to create a constant flow of breast milk. However, even the tiniest trickle of breast milk consists of concentrated nutrients and immune elements. Your baby is very small. The smallest amount of breast milk is actually sufficient to be hearty nutrition for the baby.