Put succinctly, your breast milk is the magic potion for your baby. Indeed it is magical because every mother’s milk is unique for her baby! The milk from a pre-term mother is richer in proteins and immune elements and is very strangely perfectly made to suit the baby. It is as if your body has a mind of its own, where a witch mixes ingredients to create the elixir for the little one. Breast milk is extraordinary!
Yes, sometimes the mother’s body also does not secrete much milk. There is no reason to feel guilty at all! If your body understands how much milk your baby needs, then she surely also understands if the baby does not need much milk. In fact, it has also been found that mothers who experience less secretion have the milk richest in protein and immune concentration. The benefits are essentially the same as the milk from the mother whose baby needs more milk. Have trust on yourself. Everything is fine. You will need the confidence.
Nutrition for a baby born early preterm before 28 weeks
Obviously, solid nutrition is simply not possible for the baby now. Facilities set up a controlled system of administering a special solution. The solution is made after evaluating your baby’s medical condition. It consists of sugar, salts, and water primarily. Vitamins, fats, and amino acids are also added as required. As per your breastfeeding focus, you should start expressing your milk soon after the baby is born. The nurses will show you how. They can freeze the milk, and store it for feeding the baby. Top facilities also allow mothers to feed their babies through tubes even in the NICU.
Nutrition for a baby born in the 28th to 32nd weeks
All the arrangements are virtually the same like the earliest preterm children, but moms do have some extra advantages in this phase.
Your baby may be allowed to be cup fed when the preterm has been in the 31st – 32nd weeks. Your baby is still most likely staying at the hospital, but you can cup-feed even then. The expressed milk is taken in a sterilized cup and gently offered to the baby for taking in sip by sip. Premature babies have very less muscle tone and they may not be able to suckle in this phase. It is also an amazing opportunity to bond with your newborn.
The hospital will still be providing nutrition by tube. See if the clinic has a trained dietitian to decide the baby food. The use of fortifiers is not imperative although it is a common practice. Discuss all issues and do your research to make sure you are doing your best. The same is also about the probiotics.
Nutrition for a close pre-term baby in between 32nd and 37th weeks
Like the above phases, in this period also there is no alternative to breastfeeding. The purpose of saying this repeatedly is to emphasize on its importance. Yes, there are artificial nutrients and all that. However, it only needs common sense to understand that there is really nothing like mother’s milk. After all, it is compatible with the baby’s body at a genetic level!
The facility may tell you that they cannot issue the discharge certificate unless the baby has learned to hold the bottle. This is absurd really. It is understandable when they need to keep the child in NICU because of health issues. It is not understandable when they keep the child on the pretext that breastfeeding is unimportant. Besides, breastfeeding is also a very beautiful experience. A breastfeeding mother and a newborn make a divine picture every time!
Stay confident and be positive
You may have to convince your doctors to let you breastfeed your baby even when he is pre-term. They are keeping him in the incubator which is necessary very much. Your baby is still like a fragile dream, in the process of creation, a dreaming dream. Indeed, often their internal organs are slightly undeveloped and they sleep all the time. Not having much muscle tone, there is very less visible movement as well.
Your baby’s subconscious body needs the nutritional support to grow itself. Nature has created that support close to your heart. The clinic should not be able to stop you from breastfeeding. You will need to convince the doctor with reasons. Constant research is going on in this field. Anyone can easily dig out the documents and print them out. Use these to prove your point.
Make sure you are informing the facility that it is culpable if your pre-term baby does not survive. Sometimes, facilities are bound by their policies. Considering a possible legal repercussion can be a good way to get things done rightly.
In addition, you will also have to make sure that the clinic allows Kangaroo Care. It is actually an established and researched medical term which refers to the benefits of holding the baby close to the body for comfort. This way of caring has been shown to speed up the development of the baby. Yes, it is practically impossible to hold the baby when he is in the incubator fighting a serious ailment. However, whenever it is possible, you should be allowed.