Arkansas Children's Hospital Careers About Arkansas Children's Hospital Contact Us News
Patients & Families Healthcare Professionals Supporters

Breastfeeding Your Neonate Baby

Browse the information below for tips on breastfeeding your baby in the Arkansas Children's Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

What's available at ACH for moms who are breastfeeding or who want to pump breastmilk for their baby?
Why is it important for babies to receive breastmilk?
Why is mother's milk especially important for premature babies?
Are there any benefits for moms who breastfeed or pump their milk?
What do moms need to know about pumping?
Can premature babies breastfeed?
What is the best way to position babies at the breast?
Does ACH have a milk bank?



What's available at ACH for moms who are breastfeeding or who want to pump breastmilk for their baby?

  • Lactation Specialists (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) are available Monday to Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
  • Any mom can request help by calling the Lactation Office at 364-1576.
  • The Lactation Specialists provide the following services and more:
    • Education about breastfeeding
    • Breastfeeding the normal newborn
    • Nursing a baby who is premature, sick, or has had surgery
    • Advice and teaching about:
      • Beginning pumping
      • Keeping breastmilk going when the baby is unable to breastfeed
      • Taking care of mom problems such as low milk supply or painful breasts.
      • What to do when the baby will not latch on, isn't gaining weight, or won't breastfeed.
      • Keeping breastmilk safe in the refrigerator or freezer
      • Ways to take breastmilk to or from the hospital
      • Cleaning the pumping equipment

Why is it important for babies to receive breastmilk?

  • Breastmilk provides protection from disease.
  • Some doctors call it "baby's first immunization".
  • Babies who get their mother's milk aren't sick as often.
  • The illness is usually milder if a breastfed baby does get sick.
  • Each mother's milk is specially made for her baby.
  • Breastmilk is gentle on the baby's stomach and easily digested.
  • Breastfed babies usually aren't constipated.
  • For more information, click on this link. http://www.healthyarkansas.com/breastfeeding/.

Why is mother's milk especially important for premature babies?

  • Breastmilk helps protect against a disease of premature babies called NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis). NEC makes the baby very sick and damages the baby's intestines. Babies with NEC have to stay much longer in the hospital than babies who don't get it.
  • Breastmilk is easier for tiny babies to digest.
  • Breastmilk from moms of premature infants is very special and different from that of other moms.
  • Every drop of breastmilk helps. Even if a mom can only pump for a few days or weeks, it will make a difference. Often only a few drops are needed for the first feedings.
  • Premature babies who get only mother's milk usually go home earlier and have fewer problems.

Are there any benefits for moms who breastfeed or pump their milk?

  • Makes a special bond between mother and baby.
  • Gives moms a part in helping the baby get well.
  • Makes it easier to lose weight.
  • Lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • For more information, click on this link. http://www.healthyarkansas.com/breastfeeding.

What do moms need to know about pumping?

  • Pumping does not mean that a mom has to breastfeed.
  • A mom can stop pumping at any time.
  • If a baby starts out on breastmilk, it doesn't mean that the baby can only have breastmilk.
  • Babies can change to formula if mom wants to stop pumping or there's not enough breastmilk.
  • Today's breast pumps are comfortable and easy to use.

Can premature babies breastfeed?

Yes. Premature babies can breastfeed. Below is a list of signs that a premature infant is getting ready:

  • Can be held without changes in heart rate, oxygen, or temperature.
  • Takes a pacifier or sucks on feeding tube
  • Is 32-34 weeks gestational age
  • Is able to stay awake for several minutes at a time
  • Allows mouth to be touched
  • Tries to root or suck when anything comes near the mouth.

Premature babies go through several steps before they are able to get enough milk at the breast:

  • Being held next to mom's warm skin and listening to her heart helps the baby get ready for breastfeeding. This is called "kangaroo care"
  • The next step is to let the baby practice on an almost empty breast. This is called "non-nutritive nursing". Mom pumps right before putting baby to breast. This empties most (but not all) of the milk. The baby can practice, but not swallow much milk.
  • Non-nutritive nursing gives the mom time to learn how to put the baby to the breast and how to latch the baby on. Moms don't have to worry about whether or not the baby is getting milk - it doesn't count toward the baby's feeding.
  • While the baby is practicing, breastmilk will be given through the feeding tube. This is done to make sure that the baby keeps gaining weight.
  • The next step starts when the baby shows that he or she does OK with non-nutritive nursing and is able to take more milk by feeding tube.
  • This step is "nutritive nursing".
    • Mom does not pump before putting baby to breast.
    • The baby will be weighed on a special scale before and after breastfeeding. This is done to measure how much the baby is getting from the breast.
    • At first, most babies take very little.
    • The amount that the baby took at the breast will be subtracted from the amount that the baby needs. The difference will be given by feeding tube or bottle. This gives the baby enough milk to keep growing while learning to breastfeed.
    • Over several days, the baby will take more at the breast and need less from the feeding tube or bottle.
    • With both non-nutritive nursing and nutritive nursing, it's important to be patient. Many premature babies are very sleepy and hard to keep awake to nurse. Try not to let this "normal" behavior cause you to give up too soon. Most babies will learn to breastfeed given enough time.

    What's the best way to position babies at the breast?

    Premature or sick babies need lots of support along their bodies when they're at the breast. Positions that seem to work best are cross cradle and the football hold.

    Cross Cradle

    • Mom's arm supports the baby's back and bottom.
    • She "wraps" the baby around her
    • The baby's ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.
    • Her fingers are placed right below the baby's ears and supporting the neck
    • Mom is sitting up straight
    • Her lap is flat
    • If her feet don't touch the floor, she uses a footstool.

    Football Hold

    • Mom's arm supports the baby's back and bottom
    • Her hand is at the back of baby's neck
    • The baby's ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.
    • The baby's body is turned on the side.
    • Baby's feet may be tucked in against the back of the chair
    • Mom brings baby up to breast and doesn't lean down to the baby

    Does ACH have a Milk Bank?

    • ACH has a Milk Lab which stores and prepares breastmilk for babies who are hospitalized at ACH. (ACH does not have a Milk Bank. Milk Banks collect milk from moms outside the hospital who want to donate).
    • The Milk Lab is located in the NICU and is open 7 days a week 8:30 to 5:00 PM.
    • Breastmilk for babies who aren't yet being fed is kept in the Milk Lab.
    • Once the baby starts being fed, the Milk Lab prepares the breast milk.
    • If the baby needs extra calories or other additions to the milk, the Milk Lab prepares it.
    General Information
    501-364-1100

    Appointments
    501-364-4000

    ACH NICU Reunion April 2014

    New Parent Planner - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) child care guide.

    Doctors
    Health Info
    Services
    Events
    Videos
    Carehub
    Research
    Donate Now
    Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch our videos on YouTube