A premature birth is not the arrival most pregnant moms expect, but it doesn’t mean their babies can’t get nutrition the way nature intended.
“Working in the NICU, where babies come early, these children really need their mother’s milk,” says Juana Rodriguez. She is a certified lactation specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Every effort is made to help moms provide nourishment for their newborn.
“They may depend on the breast pump to help them collect the milk. And some ladies have a hard time attaching to a pump rather than their child, but there are little suggestions, little things that I work with the mom so that she can feel comfortable using this equipment to provide milk for her baby,” says Rodriguez.
All babies benefit from breast milk. But for preemies, it’s even more important. Premature babies are at greater risk for having health problems early in life, including feeding issues, respiratory problems and infection.
“Those issues are decreased significantly with the breast milk.” Says Rhonda Harper.
As a certified lactation specialist with Lee Memorial Health System she explains to new parents that breast milk is easier for preemies to digest and offers concentrated immunities.
“We try to give them evidenced-based information and streamline that information because they do get lots of varying opinions,” Harper says.
When the time comes for baby to go home, moms are armed with education and support.
“Once the family leaves the NICU, we follow-up on getting the child to remain on the breast,” says Rodriguez.
Call it nature’s vaccine - even preemies benefit from a breast boost.