If you expect the baby to be in the hospital for a long time, you’ll have to use an electric pump. Most hospitals make electric pumps available. You will probably find it is more convenient, long term, to rent one .
The most effective ones pump both breasts simultaneously. (If you use a one sided electric pump, it is a good idea to express milk by hand from the other side to get the milk flowing.) Moisten the inner side of the pump with a little water so the breast will slide in more easily.
You can help start the milk flow with a light massage. Don’t set the pressure too high because you might injure your nipples. Fill the milk into sterile bottles or plastic bags. Try to use hard plastic containers because microphages in the milk (cells that protect your baby from infection) stick to glass receptacles.
Most hospitals, however, do use glass bottles. Breast milk for a full term baby can be stored longer than breast milk for a premature or sick baby. Current recommendations are to use fresh breast milk immediately, or place it in the refrigerator.
Refrigerated breast milk lasts up to 48 hours. You can also freeze breast milk in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Breast milk for a full term baby can be stored safely in a deep freezer at OF (-18C) for six months or longer, but breast milk for a premature baby should be stored no longer than 3 months in this way.
Breast Milk Pumping
When pumping, consider the following:
Freeze milk immediately after pumping. Label each bottle or bag and store appropriately. Do not mix milk from different pump times. After thawing, shake the milk gently, because it tends to separate during freezing. (Note: Vigorous shaking actually destroys some nutrients.)
Don’t put yourself under pressure when you pump, or your milk supply may drop. Give yourself a break and reduce your pumping to 4 or 5 times a day. You can increase your supply when your baby
is with you again.Because the milk from the mother of a premature baby is matched exactly to the needs of her baby, her milk is the very best for him.
You can, of course, supplement it with donor milk. Be sure to know the health and HIV status of the donor, or obtain the milk from a certified milk bank. With everything we know now about the benefits of breast milk, most hospitals are happy for mothers of premature babies to supply their pumped milk.
Depending on their maturity and clinical condition, premature babies can be fed at first from a syringe filled with a sugar solution or mother’s milk, or they may be fed by cup, bottle or stomach tube, or, if they are lucky, directly from the breast. Feeding methods are mixed as a rule, at least in the beginning.
With breastfeeding, how much your baby takes isn’t the most important thing at first he may only get a tea spoon or two. What’s most important is the stimulating, protective closeness he gets by being with you. In this way, you get the feeling of having a “normal” parental relationship with a young if very small baby.
Your milk production is also enhanced. Spend as much time with your baby as you can and become familiar with his care. Even when your baby is fed primarily by stomach tube, there are good reasons to add breastfeeding to his routine. Through the baby’s sucking motions, the hormone gastrine is released into his system. Gastrine stimulates digestion and helps your baby utilize nutrients better. And, as we know, mother’s milk is extremely important for the baby’s development and protection against infection.
When giving milk to the baby in a small cup, be careful not to tip it into his mouth. Instead, give your baby the opportunity to sip on his own, If you place the cup at an angle against the lower lip, a small baby will lick the milk with his tongue, like a kitten. Premature babies who have reached the maturity of about 35 weeks slurp the milk and dribble a lot of it.
When you breastfeed your little one, hold him so his legs are peeking out at your side from under your arm, or hold him in the opposite arm so your hand can support his head. If you had only limited contact with your baby, your milk production may not meet his needs for days or weeks after he is released from the hospital, even if you have been pumping constantly.
After the separation and anxieties about your baby’s life and health, it may take you some time to develop maternal feelings. That’s normal, Your connection to your baby will develop as you spend time with him and get to know him better. During these early days, arrange as much relief from house hold chores and find as much moral support as possible.
Even if you can’t fully breastfeed, know that every drop of mother’s milk you do provide is valuable for your little baby and is worth your effort.