Being a Mom of a premature baby is challenging because the baby needs extra care to be taken upon him to ensure that soon, he becomes a strong and healthy baby.
When my sister had a preemie, she was worried about how to breastfeed him, doctors I the NICU instructed that she should train him to bottle feed which made her extremely mad and longed for the day they would be out of the hospital.
However one of the most important things is to be patient. When the baby is in the hospital and using tubes to feed him, it is frustrating and annoying, but the minute they get strong, this becomes a forgotten challenge to moms.
It’s, therefore, necessary to train them to bottle feed when in the NICU even though you have bigger plans of breastfeeding him once he is out of the hospital.
It thus becomes a challenge to be able to bottle feed him contrary to a child born in the right term. However, you will find that most of the times, the nurses will help and also train until you are capable of bottle feeding them.
Below are some tips that would help to bottle feed a preemie.
- Sitting the baby up before you start bottle feeding
Once the baby is awake, hold him in your arms and let the hand that is not active support his head and neck so that he does not bend and bring discomfort while feeding. This will help him to remain awake and will have enough feed before he takes another nap.
- Support his chin and also the cheeks with your active hand. While this hand is the same you use while bottle feeding, ensure that you support his chin to make sure that the contents of the bottle do not fall off and also he will remain comfortable.
This may be tricky especially for the new moms but the nurses in the NICU are always ready to help and train you till you perfect in this.
Ensure that the nipple is small enough to release the milk that he can absorb freely to avoid choking the baby.
- Take breaks when bottle feeding- The fact that premature babies are still very fragile, they may not be able to coordinate the breathing systems with the intake of milk in the bottle. To control this, take breaks as much as possible to pave the way for breathing with ease.
In case you sense danger, call the nurse on duty for help so that he can assist to pump enough oxygen that the baby requires to get back to the normal condition. Do not take a chance since the baby is not matured well and any mistake may mean death.
- Exercise the baby- The nurses I the NICU are trained on how to handle the premature babies and as such, it’s important to ask them to train you on how to exercise the baby so that as he matures his mouth will be as active as possible. For instance, squeezing the list with your fingers in a gentle manner could help the baby feel better.
- Ask for permission to remove tubes from the baby- This will help you understand how much they can be able to feed without the support of the tubes. You will also be able to monitor the progress of the baby and consequently, know what time they can adequately feed without using the tubes.
This will also increase the chances of leaving the hospital soon once the doctors realize that the baby is out of danger.
When feeding preemies, ensure that:
- You and the baby are sitting comfortably and also in a quiet atmosphere to avoid disruptions.
- Do not take more than 30 minutes while bottle feeding to pave the way for sleeping and relaxing of the baby. This helps the muscles to develop faster.
- Once you finish bottle feeding, put the baby on your lap and pat his back to ensure that any air that has been taken in when feeding has been let out. This will also help the baby from the hazards associated with chocking.
- Avoid being assisted by someone else to bottle feed the preemie. He needs extra care that any other born baby in the term.