Educational Resources 

How can breastfeeding help the premature baby?

The milk of the mother of a premature baby is higher in protein, sodium, chloride, calcium, iron and nitrogen. Human milk is easier to digest and is better tolerated by the premature baby because the protein is more readily absorbed by baby’s digestive system and an enzyme is present which helps digest milk fat which is an important source of energy for the preterm baby’s growth. Both colostrum, the yellowish milk produced the first few days after birth, and mature milk provide the baby with antibodies that protect the immature immune system from bacterial and viral infections, diarrhea and necrotizing enterocolitis, a bowel problem often seen in premature babies. Colostrum also helps the baby excrete bilirubin, a by-product of the breakdown of excess red blood cells which can cause newborn jaundice.

Mother’s milk contains many enzymes and hormones, including growth factors which recent research suggests may help baby’s digestive and nervous systems mature.


This educational material is provided courtesy of Ameda Egnell.  Permission to use and/or reproduce this copyrighted material has been granted by the distributor, Hollister Incorporated.