Helping with a premature baby
Having a premature baby can be emotionally daunting – make sure you’re getting all the support you need.
When it comes to making feeding decisions, try to talk all the options through as a couple, and be supportive of your partner’s wishes – even if these change after birth.
There are three ways of feeding your baby:
Breastfeeding is recommended as breast milk contains the essential nutrients, antibodies and prebiotics your baby needs.
As the natural way of feeding, breast milk gives your baby the best start in life. Breast milk contains a combination of hormones, antibodies and prebiotics that help support their immune systems and promote healthy growth and development. You can find more information on the benefits of breastfeeding here.
Although you aren’t the one producing milk, you can still do a lot to help with the breastfeeding routine. One option is for your partner to express her breast milk and store it in a sterilised bottle. That way, you’ll have it ready for feeding during the night or while your partner is getting some well-earned rest!
However, expressing isn’t an option for every woman, and it’s a good idea to leave it until your baby is around six to eight weeks old, as introducing a bottle too early can confuse them. When, and if, your partner can express, it’s a great way to get some quality bonding time with your new child. Watch our video guide to storing and expressing breast milk.
If you decide, or need, to bottlefeed your baby, there are lots of things to take into consideration. You’ll need to choose formula milk, look into ways of preparing feeds and sterilising equipment.
Your first few feeds are likely to be in hospital, so it’s a good idea to check with your maternity ward whether they offer all the necessary equipment. If not, you and your partner should pack what you need in your hospital bag, along with your formula milk, so your baby won’t need to change milks after leaving hospital.
There are lots of ways you can help with bottlefeeding:
Sometimes babies will take time to adjust to being fed by someone new, so don’t be upset if it takes a while for them to get used to it. You’ll soon realise that the time you spend feeding your baby is precious bonding time.
Some women find it difficult to exclusively breastfeed and may need to combine bottlefeeding with breastfeeding. This helps ensure your baby gets the goodness they need from breast milk, and can be helpful for women who struggle to solely breastfeed. Just be aware, it is usually recommended that your partner breastfeeds for at least six to eight weeks before introducing a bottle. This will reduce the chance of your baby developing a preference for bottlefeeding.
If you need to combination feed, it’s best to introduce it gradually – this ensures your partner’s breasts don’t leak or become engorged. Dropping one feed a week at first will give her breasts some time to adjust. Here are a few more tips to help you both in the early stages:
It can take some time for your partner and baby to get used to combination feeding, so try to be patient and don’t be discouraged if they don’t take to it straight away.
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