Feeding Premature Babies: What You Need to Know

When a baby is born prematurely, they often require extra support and may face unique health problems, one of which includes nutrition. To ensure that these babies receive the nutrition they need, they are fed through a feeding tube. The tube enters through the mouth or nose and reaches the baby's stomach, and is secured with adhesive tape. Nurses change the tubes frequently to prevent pain.

Very premature babies receive trophic foods in small quantities to help the digestive tract mature and grow. In addition, fortifiers are added to breast milk and supplements are given to meet the baby's growing needs for protein, calcium and phosphorus. Before being discharged from the NICU (Intensive Care Unit for Newborns), nurses can give parents an idea of their baby's eating pattern. In some cases, donor milk or formula may be necessary in addition to the baby's breast milk.

This is usually coordinated enough to safely breastfeed or bottle-feed around 34 weeks of gestation. It is important to note that premature babies are more likely to develop an infection, so protection is essential. The NICU team supports parents and families as they face the challenges of having a premature baby in the hospital. Ask your nurse or a breastfeeding specialist to help you learn how to use one and prepare to rent one when you're out of the hospital.


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