Breast milk is important for your baby at any age but especially for your premature infant’s special needs. Both you and your new-born prem can benefit from your expressed milk until baby has developed enough to feed from your breast. Expressing your milk can feel daunting at first, but within a matter of hours you will have learnt a new skill to benefit both baby and you for months to come.
Expressing simply means releasing milk from the breast which is then stored and fed to your baby as and when required. Expressing your breast milk, starting within the first six hours after giving birth, gives your prem baby the best chance for growth.
Mothers of prem babies produce breast milk higher in protein and minerals which delivers several types of fat that your baby can absorb and more easily digest. Small amounts of Colostrum appear in the first two or three days, containing high concentrations of antibodies which help your baby fight infections, followed by the ‘coming in’ of your breast milk to nourish and develop your baby’s brain and neurologic tissues. Human milk is easier for prem babies to absorb than formula and prevents the risk of your prem baby developing intestinal infections from cow’s milk proteins.
Even if your prem baby cannot breastfeed yet, expressing breast milk from birth will ensure that your milk supply is maintained until your baby is able to nurse.
Establish a routine of expressing milk 8 to 10 times in a 24-hour period. You will need to store your breast milk until your prem is able to feed. At first, you will express only small amounts of colostrum, a few drops to a few mls, until your flow changes to more mature milk, increasing to around 50 to 70 mls each time by day five. Remember however that every prem baby and Mom is unique and volumes will vary.
It is essential that fresh breast milk is stored hygienically, and we recommend the easy-pour designed Breast Milk Storage Bags from vital baby® with its leak proof secure seal and a wide neck and freestanding base making it easy to stand. With 30 x 250ml bags in each box, you will always have breast milk stored on hand when you need it.
Expressing your breast milk is especially handy when you have to be away from your prem baby for periods of time. Your baby can still smell and taste your milk and benefit from its nourishment while your breasts are prevented from becoming engorged and uncomfortable and will be less likely to leak. It helps to be rested and relaxed while expressing your milk; try to express immediately after holding your prem baby skin-to-skin. If this is not possible, look at a photograph of your baby to help release your flow.
Once you begin breast feeding, your baby may find it difficult to latch, and for mom’s with sensitive skin, your nipples can become raw and painful. Silicone Nipple Shields from Vital Baby® NURTURE™ are ultra-thin silicone caps with a soft, natural skin feel which improve latching and provide easier feeding, especially with flat or inverted nipples, and will help your sore nipples to heal without disrupting your breastfeeding routine.
Expressing milk for prem babies requires the support of an electric breast pump which helps new moms to establish and maintain an adequate breast milk supply. An electric pump such as the Vital Baby® NURTURE™ helps you to efficiently express your milk at regular intervals, supporting you to tailor your feeding experience to approximately the times when your baby would usually feed. Prepare to pump your breast milk at least 6 to 8 times a day; this provides nipple stimulation and encourages milk production. The Vital Baby® electric pump is discreet, quiet, lightweight, and portable for total convenience, giving you ultimate control while at home and away.
About Vital Baby
Vital Baby is a family-run, UK business with over 45 years’ experience in the baby industry. We listen to what parents want and build this into our products, with the goal to make family time as effortless and enjoyable as possible. We are proud to have won 59 awards across the Vital Baby range since our re-brand in 2019.
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