Babies born between the 35th and 37th weeks of pregnancy may not feed well. They may also have trouble breathing and keeping their body temperature normal. They are at risk for low blood sugar, jaundice, and infections. These babies are sleepy, and often have problems latching on and sucking properly. Things that help are to touch and hold your baby, try to breast-feed often, and give your baby extra breast milk or infant formula.
The hospital staff or a lactation consultant can help you learn and practice what you need to do.
Hold your baby skin to skin while you massage and hand express your milk. You can express it into a spoon, cup, or special syringe and feed it to your baby. It is best not to use bottles at this stage. Using bottles for feedings may make it harder for your baby to breast-feed.
Sometimes, the use of a nipple shield (a soft silicone nipple cover) will help your baby suck better. However, this may cause problems with milk supply and your baby’s ability to get enough milk. Work closely with a lactation consultant when you are using a nipple shield.
If your baby is dehydrated (doesn’t have enough fluid in her body) or has lost too much weight, you may need to supplement with donor milk from a human milk donor bank or with infant formula if you cannot express enough milk.
If you are supplementing or if the baby is not nursing well, you should pump or express your milk regularly every 2 to 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours during the night. It’s best to use a hospital-grade electric pump.
Your baby is probably getting enough milk if:
If your baby is hard to wake up, or falls asleep at the breast, express your milk and feed it to your baby with a spoon, cup, syringe, or supplemental nursing system when your baby is more awake. This helps you keep your flow of milk and milk supply.
If you are not sure that your baby is getting enough milk, call your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.