A mother's breast milk is the preferred milk for all babies, even the most premature babies. Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed for growth and development. Although commercial milk formulas are designed to be close to breast milk, most are based on cow's milk. The fats in breast milk are more easily digested. Formula is digested more slowly than breast milk and may not be as well tolerated. In addition, breast milk contains antibodies from the mother to help protect babies from infection, something commercial formulas do not have. This protection is especially important when babies are sick or premature and may have higher chances of developing an infection.
Very premature babies may need human milk fortifiers added to breast milk to meet their increased needs for protein, calcium and phosphorus. Even if your baby cannot breastfeed, you can pump your breast milk and it can be stored for gavage or nipple feedings. Depending on the amount of milk needed for feedings, formula may need to be added to breast milk.
Certified lactation consultants (IBCLC) are nurses or other healthcare providers who are specially trained to help women with breastfeeding. In Children’s NICU, these professionals can instruct you in the proper techniques for nursing your baby. They can also teach you about pumping and storing your breast milk for your baby.o teach you about pumping and storing your breast milk for your baby.