Breastfeeding if your baby is in special care

Breast milk helps strengthen a baby's immune system, which can make all the difference to a premature baby.

If you want to breastfeed, let the unit staff know from the start, and keep reminding them to avoid confusion. You're not fussing; it's definitely worth the effort if this is something you feel strongly about.

If your baby is unable to suck and is being fed via a tube, you can still express your milk so that she is fed that via tube. "It wasn't much fun being milked like a cow, but I wanted to give her something of mine that no one else could," says one mum of a preemie.

It's not always easy to express milk or to get started with breastfeeding if your baby is premature or ill.

Get help if you want to breastfeed but are struggling, or if you feel you are being pressured to give formula when you don't want to.

Support is essential, but the quality of support can vary greatly. Ask your partner or a relative to step in if you feel too emotional to fight your corner.

What Mumsnetters say about breastfeeding a baby in special care

  • Expressing milk kept me going, wasn't exactly fun but gave me a purpose, on the 'machine' - every four hours day and night until they could suckle. tearinghairout
  • My daughter was born at 35 weeks and I refused to let her have a bottle at all. Some of the nurses thought I was a bit loopy for insisting they wake me every two hours to express, but it paid off – within three days all her tube feeds were my milk and she started to breastfeed on day seven. I made damned sure she gained weight by feeding her on demand, sometimes every 20 minutes. It was hard when I felt that they didn't believe in what I was doing, but worth it in the end. Hangingbellyofbabylon
  • I was given: a maternity assistant who was specially trained to help/teach women express, both by hand and by pump; two different pumps to try; an old-fashioned looking, but very efficient, machine (that we called Daisy) to take home for as long as our son was in SCBU; an amazing breastfeeding adviser in SCBU; a private consultation with a breastfeeding counsellor when I wanted to hurl the machine at the wall; NICU nurses who called colostrum 'liquid gold' and took great care that our son got it as soon as possible. Madmouse


Last updated: over 1 year ago