How to breastfeed a premature baby

How to breastfeed a premature baby?

Even if your baby is not well and he is very small it is very important that you spend as much time with you baby as possible, this will help promote breastfeeding, boost your milk supply and of course encourage bonding between you and your baby. Every feed your baby consumes is valuable, this first milk is often called ‘liquid gold’ so even if your baby is consuming small quantities, every drop counts. If your baby is not ready to feed, you’ll need to express often to build up your milk supply. See the expressing section to find out how.

Moving on to breastfeeding

While holding your baby skin to skin you might notice him trying to move towards the breast and ‘rooting’ for the breast. To encourage him you could express a little breast milk and bring him towards your breast. He may smell and lick some of the milk, but it might take more time before he begins to suckle. Holding him close to the breast will encourage his rooting, suckling and swallowing reflexes. When starting to feed he may only take a few suckles and then fall asleep. This is normal as tiny premature babies tend to tire quickly. This is why your baby will get the rest of your milk via a feeding cup or tube.

Don’t be scared to ask for advice during this time. Having a premature baby and being in a hospital can be overwhelming and tiring. Don’t feel afraid to ask the staff about the machines your baby is attached to. The more you know and understand the more confident you will feel.

MILK MATTERS “Mothers expressing for others”

Did you know that 50ml of breast milk a day could save a baby’s life?

Milk Matters, a registered NGO and NPO, provides pasteurised, donor breas tmilk to hospitals for vulnerable, premature, babies who cannot get the breast milk they need from their own mothers. We focus on the tiniest babies of under 1.5kg, who thrive on the irreplaceable nutrients, growth factors and antibodies in human milk. Most importantly these babies are not exposed to the debilitating and potentially fatal risk of necrotising enterocolitis, associated with formula feeding and prematurity. Necrotising enterocolitis is a serious illness that causes the bowel to go gangrenous and can potentially be life threatening. Providing these babies with breast milk is the single most effective way of preventing these complications and ensuring that babies go home sooner.

It is really easy to do. In Just 5 simple steps you can donate your extra breast milk and make a huge difference to the life of a premature infant.

Step 1: Contact Milk Matters via email, or call us on 021 659 5599 or 082 895 8004 to find out where your nearest depot is.

Step 2: Complete a simple lifestyle questionnaire and HIV and Hepatitis B test referral form.

Step 3: Visit your nearest depot to collect sterile bottles to start expressing into.

Step 4: Drop off your batches of frozen breast milk at your nearest depot.

Step 5: Go for an HIV and Hepatitis B tests at your nearest Pathcare (at no cost to you).

Your milk will then be given to premature, vulnerable infants!

List of Milk Banks in South Africa

Pretoria – Milky Hearts: 078 223 8622

KwaZulu Natal – iThemba Lethu: (031) 2617723

Gauteng – South African Breast Milk Reserve: (011) 482 1920 |

Western Cape – Milk Matters: (021) 659 5599 | Cell: 082 895 8004 | Fax (SA only): 086 515 8125

Human Milk Bank Association South Africa: (031) 266 0567 |

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*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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