New mums in our Neonatal Unit may be faced with extra challenges. The following may help achieve a positive breastfeeding outcome:
There is a breastfeeding policy which all staff adhere to. Staff are trained in the management of breast feeding preterm babies.
Staff will help mothers to establish 'skin to skin' contact as soon as baby's medical condition allows.
Our staff can provide information and support needed to:
- Start milk expression soon after birth.
- Maintain lactation.
- Understand the breastfeeding process of an early (preterm) baby.
- Mothers should be informed on best techniques (breast massage, nipple stimulation, hand expressing and use of breast pumps). Breast milk should be expressed at least six times in 24-hours if the baby is too small/ill to feed. Dual pumping (using two collection sets together) increases milk volume and saves time.
Our neonatal feeding policy supports breast milk feeding for all babies admitted to the unit.
Pasteurised and banked donor milk is considered if mothers’ breast milk is unavailable.
Staff encourage 'breastfeeding practice' as soon as baby's condition allows i.e. contact between breast and baby's mouth, becoming acquainted by smelling, licking and tasting, transferring gradually from scheduled feeds to demand feeding, and the avoidance of use of bottles until the baby has established good suckling ability at the breast.
During tube feeding the baby can be stimulated with breast or other oral stimulation.
There is evidence that use of teats may confuse oral function in breastfeeding babies.
All guidelines and procedures consider the individual baby's needs. In the Neonatal Unit there will always be babies who for one reason or another are not able to breast feed and who need to be fed with a bottle to thrive, because of longer periods of hospitalisation or who may need a dummy for comfort.
Parents are encouraged to 'room in' prior to baby's discharge and to assist the transition to exclusive breastfeeding.
Community neonatal staff are trained to give continued breastfeeding support following discharge from the Neonatal Unit.
There is breastfeeding support in the community.
Your premature/sick baby will be more able to digest breast milk than formula milk and it will help them to recover more quickly. Therefore, you will be encouraged to provide your breast milk for them. Help and support will be given to enable you to express your breast milk and progress to direct breastfeeding if you wish. Breast pumps are freely available for loan.
If you are unable to provide your own breast milk, donated breast milk may be available. (This is breast milk which has been donated and pasteurised. Strict screening processes are in place for donors and milk).
The Neonatal Unit feeding advisor is available to discuss any feeding issues.
If you are discharged home and your baby remains on the Unit, arrangements can be made for the loan of one of our breast pumps. Please ask the nursing staff for details. Expressed breast milk can be frozen and transported to the Unit. The staff will be happy to give you advice and any further information if required.