premature babies feeding is one important aspect of being in the hdu/scbu unit. This article looks more in-depth at feeding early babies in the hospital setting. One thing about premature babies is the fact the earlier there are delivered at the more immature the inner organs will be. So it means a longer stay in the NICU. Plus it means doing things a newborn baby would do will come much later on.
A premature infant born at 24 weeks will not feed from a bottle at all at this stage for 2 reasons. One is the fact the stomach cannot digest milk yet. Plus the sucking reflex is not present until a much later date, at around 35-36 weeks. Giving premature babies a dummy early around 32 weeks helps them develop this sucking reflex needed for feeding. Plus it helps them to settle during nursing care needs. It as a comforting effect on them.
You may think premature babies born earlier than 28 weeks do not have anything at all to drink . This is not the case. In fact giving no fluids to a baby will cause dehydration and death. So what feeding method is used for babies born way too soon and are often on the edge of life and death ? Fluids via a drip. Called electrolytes. The contents include various electrons of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride. other fluids can also be administered through a drip called PN parental nutrition. These consist of calories, fats and proteins.
You may also wonder how much is given of each electron. That's were regular blood tests come into play. It reveals if baby is not getting enough calcium or has too much potassium. Next would be each drip feed can be increased or decreased as necessary.
A dry nappy also reveals if a baby is dehydrated with a sunken fontanelle too. So extra fluids would then be given . Its remarkable too how blood sugar levels in premature babies can change frequently too. These tiny premature infants need regular feeds. they use a lot of energy so tend to have high calorie milk feeds later on too.
premature babies start having milk feeds gradually from around 32 weeks. Gradually introducing milk helps the gut to mature. A condition premature babies can have is called NEC. its a serious condition. it effects the bowel. if the bowel is not mature enough it cannot process the fats and proteins from milk causing the bowel to decay and die. Surgery may be needed and as infection sets in. It can be touch and go. The drip would be decreased as long as baby's milk tolerance does well.
premature babies can digest breast milk better than formulated. So if you want to bottle feed but would like your baby to have breast milk whilst in hospital you can express it. Give it to the neonatal nurse. It will be kept in the fridge or frozen to use when its your baby's next feed.
After feeding with a drip the next stage is tube feeding .It is placed into a baby's mouth and goes directly into the stomach. milk is introduced via a syringe. Breast feeding or bottle feeding is next before a prem baby is allowed home.
dr browns bottles are an excellent choice for feeding premature babies with.