Breastfeeding your premature or ill baby
The birth of your baby is an exciting and emotional time for parents. When your baby is born premature or ill it can also be a very stressful and worrying time.
After the birth, your baby may be admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) If your baby is born premature they may require careful observation and monitoring. Or if your baby is born full-term they may have health concerns that require special treatment, observation or surgery.
During your pregnancy you may or may not have thought about breastfeeding. Some Mums know they want to breastfeed before they even become pregnant, others decide during pregnancy. Other Mums wait until their baby is born before deciding to breastfeed.
For many parents when their baby is born premature or ill it can be distressing and shocking because their baby is in NICU. Your plans have suddenly changed, but that doesn't have to be the way for breastfeeding. You may not be starting the way you'd expected because your baby is born premature or ill, but with help and support you can make breastfeeding work for you and your baby.
All Mums of premature or ill babies are encouraged to express breastmilk for their baby. For a premature or ill baby breastmilk is not just food it is an important medicine to help them grow and develop. In many situations over time as your baby gets stronger, with help and support, you will be able to breastfeed your baby
The information on breastfeeding premature and sick babies was developed by the HSE, the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland, Irish Premature Babies, the National Maternity Hospital and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.