|Infant Feeding in Emergencies: A Guide for Mothers (WHO, 1997, 48 p.)|
As we said earlier, the more vulnerable the baby the more important it is he receives breast-milk. Breastfeeding is less stressful than bottle-feeding for a premature or small baby who can suckle.
If a baby is too premature or too weak to breastfeed, he can be tube fed with your expressed breast-milk. A cup can be safely used to feed a healthy pre-term baby from around 32 weeks gestation. Cups have several advantages over tubes. The baby controls his own intake and the contact with the expressed breast-milk may stimulate the digestive enzymes in his mouth. He is also held closely to be fed which is good for his development.
If a baby has to be tube-fed he can benefit from nuzzling at your breast. He will then learn to associate the smell and taste of your breast with a full stomach. You can express a little breast-milk directly into his mouth. Stay near your baby as much as you can. Express your milk as soon as possible after the birth. Express frequently, at least 6-8 times a day. However small the amount any breast-milk is valuable for your baby's progress. Some mothers of premature or low birth weight babies can produce sufficient breast-milk, others need to supplement, ideally with expressed breast-milk from other mothers.
It is important when feeding expressed breast-milk to ensure that the baby gets enough of the fat-rich hindmilk. This fattier milk is more likely to stick to the sides of the feeding tubes. Less fat is lost from cup feeding.