Preemie babies have special nutritional needs, and what some parents do not know is that the preterm breast milk also has different ingredients from the breast milk of a full-term baby. Preemie baby breast milk is very nutritious. Not to say full-term breast milk is not. However, your body knows the baby came before the full term, so it is wired to produce the kind of breast milk necessary for a preemie baby. As such, the breast milk contains a high level of protein, fat, potassium, iron, sodium, and chloride. Mothers of preemies put their babies at a significant advantage when they provide them with breast milk. Being premature, preemies are very sensitive to their environment, so being fed breast milk that is already naturally formulated for their development, will protect against infections. It can also reduce stress and provide better developmental outcomes.
In addition to the above, here then are five more ways breastfeeding milk benefits premature babies
Protects against allergies
Feeding preemies with breast milk coats the intestinal tract and reduces inflammation. Without this internal protection, undigested proteins could get into the baby’s stomach and cause an allergic reaction. It also reduces the likelihood the child develops “leaky” intestinal walls.
Better immune system
Piggy-backing off number 1 is the strengthening of the immune system. Because the intestinal tract is coated with igA (immunoglobulin A) from the breast milk, the baby is protected from harmful germs. Illnesses such as stomach viruses and ear infections infrequently occur in preterm babies who have been adequately breastfed.
More should be said about the igA here. During the last three months of pregnancy, large amounts of protein molecules called immunoglobulins pass from the mother to the fetus via the placenta. These particles protect the newborn against infections, etc. However, because the baby was born premature, not much immunity was passed on. Hence, the preemie baby has a higher risk of developing infections and having a weak immune system. But igA is also passed via breastfeeding. So that’s why it’s good to breastfeed, so more igA can be passed on to the preemie and the immune system gets strengthened. Note also the milk produced the first couple days after birth contain the highest concentration of igA.
Lower incidences of Diabetes and Obesity
According to research, preterm babies are less prone to type 1 and two diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). On the other hand, children born full term are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease and even ulcerative colitis when they become adults. The American Journal of Epidemiology also states that breastfeeding a preemie reduces the risk of obesity as a teenager or an adult. This could be due to the fact breast milk contains less fat-stimulating insulin that baby formulas.
Reduces the risk of cancer
Research shows the same antibodies in breast milk that helps strengthen a preemie’s immune system, also helps fight off cancer.
Higher mental development outcomes
Several studies show breastfeeding improves brain growth and development. In fact, there is a direct correlation between preterm babies’ ability to learn and the time spent breastfeeding. The studies also show amount the smallest preemies, a relationship between the amounts of breast milk drank and a higher developmental outcome. In one exam, 4,000 children, i.e. babies who were breastfed, got the highest scores on a vocabulary test than those babies who were not breastfed.
If your child is premature, the best thing you could do for your baby is to breastfeed. Your body Is wired to produce the kind of breast milk necessary for a preemie baby. Studies show the breastfeeding milk, especially the first several
days after birth contains a high concentration of nutritional supplements that will aid in fighting off infections and diseases. Feeding your baby breast milk will also build the immune system, and aid in mental development. If you want your preterm baby to grow healthy and vigorous, with high intelligence and low incidences of illnesses, give your child the natural formula—breast milk! It is no wonder they say, “the breast is best!”