Breast-feed Babies in NICU

When babies are born before 36 weeks’ gestation, they are often unable to begin oral feeding because their brain is not yet mature enough to initiate the suck-swallow-breathe response. However, the staff at Saint Francis Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) strives to teach premature babies how to breast-feed before they leave the hospital.

“Breast milk is the primary medication that any baby in the NICU will receive,” says Karlyle K. Christian-Ritter, MD, FAAP, neonatologist, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “All our new mothers have access to a hospital-grade double breast pump. If they are unable to pump enough milk for their babies, we have a donor milk program they can use.”

Christian-Ritter_KarlyleOnce babies are able to feed orally, lactation specialists along with the nursing staff and developmental team will help mom and baby establish breast-feeding with the aim of exclusive nursing at discharge.

For more information, call 573-331-3996 or visit the Saint Francis Level III NICU webpage.