If your baby was born before week 34, it is likely that his body has not finished developing the mechanism for sucking and swallowing. You don’t have to worry about it because babies have an inborn ability to learn how to do it, but it requires some time and help. For this reason, medical specialists may insert a gastric tube through your baby’s mouth to supply the necessary ounces of milk for his growth. There are special formulas for the premature, but according to experts, it is better to use breast milk as it contains all the nutrients your baby needs. Thanks to the wisdom of the body, the milk you produce when your baby is premature contains calories, vitamins, and proteins customized for his growth! It also contains antibodies, prebiotics, and nutrients that help build his immune system.
In order to feed your baby with breast milk, it is necessary to extract it manually or by means of a breast pump. To secure the continuous flow of milk, it must be extracted about 8 times a day. A good diet and rest are important to have a good milk production.
When your baby no longer requires the use of the tube, you can use a device consisting of a plastic bag, where the breast milk is inserted, and a thin tube to be attached on your breast. Once you have the chest tube attached, you will need to adjust it to your nipple, and insert it into the corner of your child’s mouth. This method is convenient during the time the baby learns how to suck milk.
Another way to stimulate the suction, is using a bottle containing your milk. You can use this method to stimulate the sucking reflex, and when your baby is ready you can start with the transition to breastfeeding.
Whichever technique you choose, once the baby dominates the suction mechanism he will be more likely to suck from your nipple. Be patient! Remember each baby has his own pace.