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Breastfeeding

Your Baby in the NICU

Many parents think that it is not possible to breastfeed in the NICU. In


most cases, this assumption is false. Unless otherwise indicated by
your physician for reasons related to the medical condition of your
baby, you are actually encouraged to breastfeed. Breastfeeding in the
NICU presents with some challenges, however it is far from impossible.

Breastfeeding is highly encouraged whenever possible in the NICU. It
provides countless benefits for the child that cannot be supplemented
by formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares, Human milk
is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick
newbornsIt is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least
the first 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.
One of the reasons why breastfeeding is so important is because
human milk functions as the ideal infant nutrition. It contains
immunities to diseases and assists in the development of the babys
immune system. Babies also are able to digest breast milk better than
formula because the breast milk contains a specific enzyme that aids in
the process of digestion.


For preterm infants born before 37 weeks gestation, the


milk that is produced by these mothers differs slightly
from the milk of mothers who delivers full term. This is
because preterm infants have different nutritional
requirements than full term infants. In early breast milk,
there is a substance called colostrum, which acts to help
the baby pass meconium (babys first bowel movement).
Many preterm infants can have trouble with the passing of
meconium because their organs are not yet mature
enough to move the meconium through the body.

act of breastfeeding promotes mother-infant bonding.
In addition to the health benefits of breast milk, the
The action of placing the baby skin-to-skin allows you and the baby to develop an emotional connection. It is
has time to get to know you during their stay in the
just as important, if not more important, that your baby

NICU. This is one of the reasons why NICUs are currently
transitioning to become more breastfeeding

friendly. The parent-infant relationship is especially important for newborns in the NICU because it has been
one or both of their parents are more likely to have
shown that babies who spend more time bonding with
better medical outcomes.

Overall, breastfeeding can provide your baby with numerous benefits that cannot be supplemented with any
other method of feeding. Breastfeeding has even greater benefits for you baby in the NICU, both nutritional
and emotional. We encourage all mothers to strongly consider breastfeeding because the benefits greatly
outweigh any difficulties that may accompany the process in the NICU. Time and availability should not be
reasons to opt out of breastfeeding. You can work closely with your nurse and other members of the
healthcare team to set up a feeding plan that can be tailored to best accommodate your schedule.

Reflective Note: I chose to create a webpage to teach parents of infants in the NICU about the importance of
breastfeeding. This webpage is intended to be displayed on the March of Dimes website, which functions to
promote the health and wellbeing of babies. The heading on my webpage is the same heading that is used on
the March of dimes website, and I chose to make the title of the article purple because both blue and purple
are the colors for March of Dimes. The intended audience for this piece is parents with newborns in the
NICU. The text content on the webpage is meant to inform parents of babies in the NICU why breastfeeding is
so important for both their physical and emotional health. It discusses the nutritional benefits of
breastfeeding as well as how breastfeeding enhances the mother-infant attachment. I chose to include two
pictures of babies in the NICU to bring to life the content of the piece. I also purposefully kept the length to
one page to simulate the look and design of a webpage as closely as possible.

Portfolio Note: I would include this piece in my portfolio because it shows my ability to write to a public
audience rather than a professional audience of nurses. This piece supplements my Project 2 piece where I
answered a call for papers about the importance of making all NICUs breastfeeding friendly. Both discuss the
importance of breastfeeding in the NICU but are targeted to different audiences.


Works Cited

Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., & Clark, R. (2003). Breastfeeding, bonding, and
the mother-infant relationship. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49(4), 495-517.
Hopwood, R. (2010). The role of the neonatal nurse in promoting parental
attachment in the NICU. Infant, 6(2), 54-58.
Petruskavich, S., RN, MN, PCP, Manikandan, R., RN, MN, & Schallers, D., RN,
BScN. (2013). Leading the baby friendly initiative in a NICU: One
hospitals journey to ignite the change. Newborn and Infant Reviews,

13(3), 133-136.

Nicu [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sjmctx.com/services/nicu/


Baby small [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://share.upmc.com/2015/05/
nicu-mm/