Premature babies do not yet have a mature intestine and many cannot breastfeed because they do not yet know how to suck and swallow, which is why it is necessary to start feeding, which consists of breast milk or special infant formulas for premature infants, through the vein or through a tube .
The premature baby is regularly monitored by the hospital staff, who monitor its development and assess its health status, checking if the baby is already capable of breastfeeding and swallowing breast milk.
How is hospital food
In the hospital, the premature baby’s feeding is sometimes initiated through nutritive serums that are administered directly into the vein. These serums will help the baby to recover, and when it is better it will start feeding by tube.
The probe is a small tube that is placed in the baby’s mouth and goes up to the stomach, and can also be the first feeding option for premature babies, depending on their health status. This tube is placed because many premature babies still do not know how to suck and swallow, which makes it impossible to feed directly on the mother’s breast.
Special milk formulas can be given through the tube for premature babies or breast milk itself, if there is a milk bank in the maternity hospital. The milk bank is a place where the mother will receive instructions to express her milk, which will be given to the baby by the tube every 2 or 3 hours.
When the premature baby will be able to breastfeed
The premature baby will be able to breastfeed when his general health improves and he can suck and swallow the breast milk. In this transition phase, it may be necessary to use a technique called translocation, through which the baby is placed to breastfeed with the tube, to learn how to take the breast and suck breast milk. Breastfeeding should be done every 2 or 3 hours, according to the baby’s needs.
Even if the baby does not breastfeed, after delivery the mother should stimulate the breast so that the milk can flow, using circular movements that must be made at the edges of the areola every 3 hours, and then pressing the areola to express the milk. In the beginning, it is normal for only a few drops or a few milliliters of milk to come out, but this is the amount the baby can ingest, as his stomach is still very small. As the baby grows, the production of breast milk also increases, so the mother does not have to worry or think she has little milk.
Care during breastfeeding
The premature baby should be breastfed every 2 or 3 hours, but watch out for signs of hunger such as sucking on the fingers or twisting the mouth, as the baby may want to breastfeed early. Even if the baby is asleep or does not emit signs of hunger, you should wake him up to breastfeed no more than 3 hours after the last feeding.
In the beginning it will be difficult to breastfeed the premature, as he does not suck as well as other babies, but usually after 34 weeks the feeding process becomes easier. In addition, before hospital discharge, doctors and nurses will advise on meal breaks and techniques to facilitate breastfeeding.
In cases where the baby takes infant formulas, you should buy milk for premature infants or another type of special infant formula, as indicated by the pediatrician. The meal interval should also be 2 to 3 hours, and care for signs of hunger are the same.
When the premature baby can eat baby food
The premature baby can only begin to eat baby food and other solid foods when the pediatrician evaluates his development and is sure that he is able to tolerate new foods. The introduction of new foods usually occurs only after the fourth month of corrected age, when the baby is able to lift his neck and remain seated. The premature baby at the beginning may reject food, but parents should gradually insist, without forcing. The ideal is to start the new diet with juices and fruit porridge.
It is important to remember that introducing new foods ahead of time can cause allergies in the baby, and all children under 1 year of age should not drink cow’s milk, even those who are not premature.
The main warning signs that the premature baby should be taken to the doctor are:
- The baby stops breathing for a few seconds;
- Frequent choking;
- Speckled mouth;
- Appear fatigue and perspire when breastfeeding.
It is normal for the premature baby’s breathing to be noisier, and saline should only be applied when his nose is clogged.