Preparing to breastfeed your preterm baby
- Start pumping as soon as you can, use the pump that best works for you and pump your breastmilk for your baby.
- Establish a relaxing habit so that you condition your breasts to "let-down" milk when it's time to pump or feed.
- If you're establishing your milk supply or want to build it up it's advisable to establish a routine for your pumping.
- When you pump, make sure you extract the hind milk, which is highest in the fat calories your baby needs. Pump for a minute or two after milk flow stops or comes out in slow drips.
- Persist through the ups and downs of your milk supply. Expect very small amounts at first. At any time, if your breasts seem unproductive in spite of pumping, you may be tempted to give up. But try to persist in keeping your breasts primed. Try getting more rest, drinking more water and pumping more frequently (rather than for longer sessions). Your milk supply may build up naturally in response to a decrease in stress in your body.
- If your baby is able to suckle he will be more receptive to feeding when he is alert and quiet. Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room so he does not become distracted. Start by doing kangaroo care (holding your diapered baby against your bare chest) Kangaroo care will relax both of you, and the skin-to-skin contact may inspire him to suck and your milk to flow. When he starts rooting around on your skin, guide him to your nipple.
- Recognise that every mother has to do a certain amount of figuring out what works best. For instance, if your baby has trouble latching onto your nipple, try using your pump's suction to draw out your nipple before putting your baby to the breast. Or if your milk spurts out at the beginning of the feed and overwhelms your baby, pump just enough to decrease the pressure or volume. That way, your baby can keep up without swallowing air or choking. Try to find solutions that work for both of you.
- View the entire feeding relationship as meaningful for you and your baby. If you choose to supply a small amount of milk, or if you want to put your baby to the breast even if you supplement with other options advised by your health care professional afterwards, do so. Permit yourself room to experiment and adjust.