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Your question:

Why is breastmilk important for a premature or ill baby?

Expert’s answer:

 Breastmilk is more than food for your premature or ill baby

  • It is gentle on their tiny tummies and easy to digest
  • Ìt protects your baby from infections, especially life-threatening gut infections that premature babies are more prone to
  • It improves the brain development and vision of premature babies
  • It provides antibodies to build your baby’s immune system
  • Babies who are fed breastmilk generally spend less time in hospital
  • Making milk for your baby helps you develop a bond and connection with your baby

When your baby is born, whether they are premature or full-term, your body makes breastmilk that is very specific to their needs.  If your baby is born premature, your breastmilk will be higher in fat, calories, proteins, immunoglobulins, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and white cells - all the goodness your baby needs to continue to grow and develop.

While you may not be able to feed your baby at your breast to start with - if they are premature or ill and being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit - you can express your breastmilk.  This ensures that your baby gets all the benefits of breastmilk that only you can provide.

Many Mums of premature and ill babies have found that expressing breastmilk helped them feel close to their baby and gave them a sense that they were doing something really practical and valuable to help their baby.

 

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