Storing pumped milk
When you pump your breast milk, you should store it in small bags or containers. You can purchase special storage bags to keep your breast milk in. Ask your hospital caregivers how much you should store per bag and if it is okay for you to bring in frozen breast milk. Some hospitals do not allow the use frozen breast milk. Label your breast milk with your baby’s name and what date the milk was collected. The hospital will use the milk in order of when it is dated. See Breast milk storage guidelines for more information on how to store your breast milk.
Breastfeeding your preemie
Once your baby is strong enough to breastfeed, your hospital caregivers will help you get started. Your baby may start out by just licking at your breast. She may suck at the breast for a while before she actually starts to swallow any milk. Preemies take a lot longer than full term babies to nurse. It may take her as long as 40 minutes to an hour for just one feeding. If she refuses to suck or keeps falling asleep, you should stop nursing and try again later. If you find the process is frustrating, you may want to work with a lactation consultant to help you. Your preemie may not suck well enough to empty your breasts when she nurses. For this reason, it is a good idea to pump after she nurses to make sure that your breast is emptied. Preemies may only nurse on one breast per feeding. This is not uncommon or something to worry about. To keep your supply up, you may want to pump the other breast after your baby nurses.
Breastfed preemies may need a supplement
Your doctor may advise you to give your baby a special supplement. Supplements can be added to your breast milk. You can even give your baby a supplement while you breastfeed by using a special tube feeding devise that allows your baby to nurse and take the supplement at the same time. This may seem discouraging to a breastfeeding mom, but supplementing will help your baby to thrive. Once your baby gains weight and starts breastfeeding better, you can work with your doctor on weaning from the supplement.