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Information for patients
Obstetrics and gynaecology
Congratulations, your baby has been born. It is a worrying time when your baby needs to go to the Special Care Baby Unit.
It is natural as parents to want to help your baby and you may feel quite helpless at this time. One of the best ways to help your baby is to give your baby breast milk.
Even if you have chosen to formula feed your baby, we would encourage you to express your milk.
Your milk helps your baby grow and develop and protects them against infections.
Breast milk has been shown to:
Premature babies have not been able to complete their development and breast milk helps your baby’s:
In the long term breast milk also helps lower your baby’s risk of:
Colostrum is the first milk that all mothers produce after birth.
In the early days and weeks your baby may not be able to feed directly from your breast. Until this time you can express your milk to give to your baby to help them grow and develop.
Premature babies slowly develop their sucking skills from about 32 weeks or sometimes even later.
Until your baby is able to breastfeed well your baby will be given milk feeds through a gastric tube (a tube that is passed through baby’s nose or mouth going into their stomach).
You are encouraged to express as soon as possible after birth, ideally within the first two hours. The sooner you get started the better it is for you to carry on making milk for your baby in the long term.
Your midwife will give you your ‘Liquid Gold’ pack if your baby is likely to go to SCBU. This is so you can start hand expressing your milk straight away.
Collect your expressed breastmilk in the feeding syringe provided and then it can be taken to SCBU for your baby.
Try to avoid sliding your fingers over your skin as friction like this can make you sore.
Once you are expressing around 10ml you may want to start using a pump. A member of staff will show you how to set up and use the breast pump. Remember to always hand express before using a pump. This helps with hormones for milk production and getting your milk flowing.
Wash your hands before expressing.
The very best time is when you see your baby or just after cuddling your baby. Skin to skin contact with your baby helps you to keep making milk for your baby.
At other times have something to remind you of baby; a photo to look at or an item of clothing to smell (smell is a powerful sense that can boost your hormones).
There are no set times. Aim to express at least 8 times a day with at least one time being during the night. this helps with your milk production for the next day). Some mothers space pumping times out throughout the day, others do 2-3 expressions within a short space of time as little as an hour apart. It is best not to leave gaps of more than 6 hours.
After your babies birth you will start to produce small amounts of a Colostrum from your breasts. This is a thick, yellow sticky milk sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’. It is produced specifically for your babies needs and will help your baby to fight infections, support their immune systems and help their gut function. It is also full of vitamins and minerals and helps your baby to grow and develop.
As many pre-term or sick babies on the neonatal unit can not start to feed straight away then small amounts of colostrum can be placed into your babies cheeks where it will be absorbed until they are able to start oral feeds ensuring they receive all the benefits of ‘liquid gold’.
It is important that you express very regularly in order that you baby has a constant supply of colostrum. The best way to express colostrum is by hand expressing your colostrum into the oral syringes provided in the ‘liquid gold packs’ available on the maternity and neonatal unit.
You are welcome to use the pumps on SCBU at any time. Whilst your baby remains in hospital you may be able to loan an electric pump from SCBU free of charge.
The midwifery teams also loan out pumps for up to two weeks (you must also be receiving midwifery care and these are also free).
The Children’s Centres have a pump loan scheme too.
For further information or to find your nearest children's centre contact Family Information Service on 0800 0730230.
In the first day or two after birth oral syringes can be used to store small amounts of breast milk. As your milk volumes increase use the sterile storage bottles provided by the postnatal ward and SCBU.
Unless milk is to be used straight away freeze it immediately. There is a refrigerator on the postnatal ward and both a refrigerator and freezer on SCBU.
When bringing frozen milk in from home bring it in a cool bag and place it in the freezer on SCBU without letting it defrost.
Remember to label your milk with your baby's name, and the time and date of expression.
Breastfeeding drop-in clinic
Every Thursday from 1.30pm to 3pm
Meg's room, B floor, Rotherham Hospital
No appointment needed
0300 100 0212
0300 330 0771
0300 100 0210
0300 330 5453