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Preterm breastmilk

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If a woman delivers a preterm infant, the composition of their milk is different. It has higher levels of energy, lipids, protein, nitrogen and fatty acids, as well as some extra vitamins and minerals. It also contains extra immunoglobulins (immune cells) and anti-inflammatory elements, when compared with full-term breastmilk.

Your amazing body adapts your milk to meet the unique needs of your premature or low-birth-weight baby.

If a woman delivers a preterm infant, the composition of their milk is different. It has higher levels of energy, lipids, protein, nitrogen and fatty acids, as well as some extra vitamins and minerals. It also contains extra immunoglobulins (immune cells) and anti-inflammatory elements, when compared with full-term breastmilk.

On top of all the nutrition, the process of breastfeeding is overwhelmingly described by preterm mothers, who are often separated from their infants for periods of time, as an experience that strengthened their bond.

In most studies, the benefits have been shown to outweigh the effort for the mothers of preterm infants. The reasons stated were often “physical closeness and intimacy” and the sense of empowerment from knowing they’d made “a unique contribution toward their infants care”.

If your preterm baby is struggling to feed, your health care staff can help — with a variety of devices designed to ease into normal breastfeeding. Commonly used equipment includes supplementers (supply lines), cups, syringes, bottles and breast pumps. Supplementers can be used with your pumped milk, or with formula as needed.

Your body knows what your baby needs, and it brings the goods — so where possible, share your superpower.

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