Before your baby was born, you might have probably dreamed about how it would feel to hold him/her in your arms and feed him/her. You might have already decided and planned out what all to feed or how to feed him/her a nutritious diet. However if your baby has been born prematurely, you may have to reconsider your plans. Feeding a premature baby can really be a stressful task for any parent. It becomes an issue of daily care and concern. In the womb, the baby might have got all nutrients and fluids via the placenta and umbilical cord. But when a baby is born premature, this chain of receiving nutrients and fluids is broken. As such, the deficiency that results can be taken care by nursing the baby or by feeding him/her formula, or by following other methods as prescribed by the doctor to fulfill the baby’s basic requirement. Read on to know more on feeding your premature baby.
Methods For Feeding A Premature Baby
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is a method of feeding used for extremely premature babies or one who are very sick. In this method, nutrients such as glucose, protein and fat solutions are introduced directly into the baby’s bloodstream through a vein. Babies have an immature digestive system, so this method is brought to use. This method also helps the kids to preserve their energy. TPN provides all necessary nutrients to your baby to help him/her grow and thrive.
Tube Feeding Method
Supply of adequate amount of nutrients to the baby is necessary for them to grow properly. Tube method makes sure that baby gets enough nutrients. Babies have a higher metabolism, their brain is developing and they are growing fast. However, premature babies have limited supply of energy and nutrients. Thus it becomes important to tube feed them, so that they can take in small intake of nutrients without using too much of energy. The coordination of sucking, swallowing, and breathing needed for feeding is not developed in babies before 34-36 weeks, so a tube is passed through their nose or mouth down to their stomach.
Nursing is the best way to protect your kids from different illnesses. Your body produces specialized proteins called antibodies to fight off infection. Mothers transfer these antibodies to their babies through placenta during last three months of pregnancy. This process is broken if a baby is born prematurely. Mothers also can transfer these antibodies through breastfeeding. This will help to defend the babies against any virus or infection.
In the early stages of your baby’s development, proper supply of enough energy and fluids is important. Sometimes, it may get difficult for mothers to express enough milk because of some illness during pregnancy. Two of the alternatives that can be used in such a case can be; to use additional breast milk donated to some hospitals by other mothers, or to use formula milk. This is a temporary method to be adopted. Full inspection of the donated milk will be conducted by the doctors before feeding it to babies.
When in hospital, babies are fed on formula milk, made particularly for their nutritional needs. When your baby is out of hospital and ready for coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing, he/she can be fed by a bottle. These formulas contain more of nutrients that a premature baby requires, such as iron, fat, protein, several vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.