Nurses and lactation consultants on Sinai Hospital’s B1 Mother/Baby Unit recently attended a luncheon where they learned valuable information about how mothers of preemies can increase their breast milk volumes.
While moms who intend to breastfeed are encouraged to put their babies to breast within 30 to 60 minutes after birth, that’s not possible for those who deliver preemies who need to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Yet even though these moms aren’t able to breastfeed their infants at first, they can use a breast pump to help establish their milk supply. To that end, these mothers are encouraged to pump within 2 to 6 hours of delivery and to continue to do so 6 to 8 times per day until their infants can breastfeed.
However, these moms usually don’t produce as much milk as mothers of full term infants. In many cases, it’s considerably less. That’s a problem because breast milk is medicinal to NICU babies; the more of it they consume, the better their outcomes.
During the first two weeks after birth, full term babies don’t eat with regular, rhythmic sucking. Rather, they suck rapidly at first, take long pauses and go back to fast sucking. Once considered abnormal, this behavior is now understood to play an important role in creating the hormones that cause a mother to produce milk.
At the luncheon, a representative from Medela (the make of the breast pumps Sinai uses) was on hand to educate the nurses about an important new development in the way the Medela Symphony® hospital-grade pump can be used for moms of preemies. A new application allows the pump to mimic the way a full term newborn sucks. In a blind study, this new pattern resulted in mothers producing up to 75 percent more milk than those who used the traditional pumping pattern. Mothers of preemies are to use this newborn pumping pattern until they begin producing enough milk.
Now, moms of NICU babies at Sinai Hospital will have the tools to maximize their milk production, and their preemies will benefit. It’s just one more way Sinai shows its commitment to helping babies get the best nutrition possible. Earlier this year, the hospital became the first in Maryland to offer the smallest NICU babies a diet of 100 percent human milk, even if their mothers can’t feed them their own milk.
To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premiere health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.