Dr. Jack Newman dispels myths about premature babies breastfeeding
Jack Newman added a new photo: “This is the beginning of a late draft of a chapter on the premature baby from my new, completely revised2014 version of Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to breastfeeding, now on sale at Canadian bookstores and also through amazon.ca. US residents can also buy it through amazon.ca. Inquires about purchasing my book can also be sent to email@example.com. A commonwealth edition which will also be available in all of Europe is slated to be available in August through Pinter and Martin Publishers.
The Preterm and Near Term Baby
Myth #1: Premature babies cannot breastfeed exclusively.
Fact: Of course they can. A very premature baby may not be able to actually feed at the breast at first, but he can have his mother’s milk until he is ready to breastfeed. With good help and encouragement, the mother can produce enough milk and soon have the baby breastfeeding. Unfortunately, most NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) do not provide this help.
Myth #2: Premature babies need to be cared for in incubators.
Fact: The data are clear. Premature babies are usually better off taken care of in Kangaroo Mother Care, where the baby is skin to skin with the mother. The baby is usually more stable with regard to his breathing, heart function, blood pressure, blood sugar and temperature when skin to skin with the mother than in an incubator. The mother produces more milk and the baby is more likely to get breastfeeding earlier and better.
Myth #3: All premature babies need to have their mother’s milk “fortified”.
Fact: Rubbish. Perhaps the most premature of the prematures, those who, in the past would never have survived and for whom breastmilk was not designed, require “fortification” of their mother’s milk. However, in some places, virtually any baby born before 37 weeks gestation receives, if he is lucky, “fortified” breastmilk. The less lucky ones get formula. Some babies are even receiving “fortified” breastmilk after they leave the hospital. Many mothers don’t realize that breastmilk fortifier is made from cow’s milk. There’s no reason, really, why it couldn’t be made from human milk.
Myth #4: Premature babies cannot start breastfeeding until they are 34 weeks gestation.
Fact: Outside North America (where this myth is taken as gospel), particularly in Scandinavia, babies are starting at the breast by 28 weeks gestation. In Sweden, for example, babies are often breastfeeding (from the breast) exclusively by 34 weeks gestation, before we even “allow” them to start in North America.
Myth #5: Breastfeeding is tiring, particularly for the premature baby, much more tiring than bottle feeding.
Fact: This is not true. This false notion comes from the fact that too often too many people do not understand how breastfeeding works. Research has shown that breastfeeding is less stressful and less tiring than bottle-feeding for the premature baby. (see the video “inserting lactation aid” at our website and read the text)”