8.3.2  Tips to help a mother breastfeed a preterm or low birth weight baby

A mother’s breast is offered to a baby to feed on.
Figure 8.1  Offer the whole breast to encourage the baby to breastfeed.

Express a few drops of milk on the baby’s lip to help the baby start nursing. Offer the whole breast, not just the nipple, so the baby can get a good mouthful (Figure 8.1). Give the baby short rests during a breastfeed; suckling is hard work for a preterm or tiny baby.

If the baby coughs, gags, or spits up milk when starting to breastfeed, the milk may be spurting out too fast for the little baby. Teach the mother to take the baby off the breast if this happens. Hold the baby against her chest until the baby can breathe well again. Then put it back to the breast after the first gush of milk has passed.

If the preterm baby does not have enough energy to suck for long, or its sucking reflex is not strong enough, teach the mother how to express her breast milk by hand and then feed it to the baby from a cup.

8.3.1  Breastfeeding and cup feeding

8.3.3  Expressing breast milk