As your baby gets older and his or her condition stabilizes your involvement with their care will increase.
Kangaroo Care is of utmost importance as is continuing to pump breastmilk if you are able.
When you are able to hold your baby – try to do kangaroo care (or skin-to-skin holding) which is very beneficial for baby’s development, your milk production, and a general sense of bonding with your child. Read more about Kangaroo Care.
When the doctor writes an order that breastfeeding may be attempted be sure to request a consultation with a lactation nurse that is experienced with preemie babies – breastfeeding a micropreemie can be a very frustrating, long process as the babies are still quite young and it requires a lot of energy from them to suck, swallow, and breath. An experienced LC should be able to help you with different techniques and breastfeeding positions to help increase the chances of successful breastfeeding. It will take time, patience, and practice. Some may not be able to breastfeed and that’s ok too. You may still be able to put your baby to breast and let them nuzzle.
Visit La Leche League website for more information and general support on breastfeeding. This video offers helpful positioning information. Though it is shown with a fullterm baby, you may want to share the concepts with your LC.
When the doctor writes an order for oral feeds to begin, OT/PT or your baby's nurse will show you how to feed your baby. Preterm infants are still learning to coordinate the suck, swallow, breathe sequence. They will show you different techniques to hold them for feedings, help support your baby’s chin or cheeks, and help them stay awake as this is very hard work and they will tend to tire out quickly.
Occupational and Physical Therapists will begin working with your baby when your baby is stable and strong enough to tolerate the therapy. Ask to make a scheduled appointment when you can be there and learn things you can do with and for your baby such as infant massage or gentle exercises. This is a wonderful way to bond and you will also quickly learn your baby’s stress and overstimulation signals.