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Feeding Your Premature Infant - Topic Overview

Pumping milk

Regular pumping keeps up your milk production for when your infant is ready to breast-feed. You may also need to pump your breast milk so that your baby has it for tube-feedings. If your infant can't digest milk yet and needs intravenous feedings, your milk will be frozen for future use.

While you are still in the hospital, talk to a lactation consultant and become familiar with the double electric breast pump.

Like most new things, pumping for your infant will get easier with practice. Pump as often as your infant feeds, about every 2 to 3 hours, and at least once at night. Bring your labeled bottles or bags of milk with you to feed your infant or to freeze for later use.

Benefits of breast milk

Breast milk has proven benefits, especially for the fragile premature infant. Benefits of breast milk over formula include better immunity to dangerous infections, nutrient absorption, digestive function, and nervous system development. So your hospital is likely to strongly encourage you to provide breast milk for your infant during the first weeks of life, at a minimum. A lactation consultant can be very helpful with pumping and breast-feeding questions and problems, both before and after the birth.

Using formula

There are formulas made just for premature infants. They provide most of the nutrients your baby needs. Soy protein-based formulas aren't recommended for premature infants.1

A premature infant has higher-than-usual energy demands on his or her system after birth. No matter how your baby is fed, he or she may need a high-calorie supplement to get the best growth and healing.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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