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Giving premature babies a nutritional boost

2023-05-17T09:08:43+01:00Wednesday 17 May 2023|

Mothers of premature babies discharged from Walsall’s Neonatal Unit will be offered a breast milk supplement so they can continue to be fed this way at home with extra nutrition.

Breast Milk Fortifier (BMF) is now being given to mothers who wish to exclusively give their premature baby breast milk when at home.

During the last trimester of pregnancy babies store lots of nutrients and energy in preparation for their life outside the womb. Babies who are born early miss out on this and need extra nutrition to grow and develop. Ensuring babies are growing well during these first few weeks of life is really important for their long-term general health and brain development.

Preterm babies have much higher nutritional requirements than babies who are born at term. BMF helps provide this extra nutrition.

Kazi and Azizun Rahman welcomed their baby boy Yahya Rahman on 18 February. He was born premature weighing 2lbs 10oz.

Yahya was the first baby at Walsall Manor Hospital to be discharged with BMF to have at home.

Mum Azizun said: “It’s great that there is an option to maximise the benefits of my breast milk. The BMF is helping him to gain weight and plumping him up.”

Dad Kazi added: “From a dad’s perspective you don’t realise what other factors need to be taken into consideration for the nutrition of a baby. It’s good to know we can use a supplement like BMF to support baby and mum.”

The couple added: “We were a bit apprehensive knowing that Yahya was the first baby to be discharged with BMF as we were thinking he was a bit of a guinea pig. But after knowing all the benefits and the fact we trust all the staff, we actually think it’s quite special he is the first and we are grateful he gets to have this to support his nutrition.”

Kiran Chatha (Neonatal Community Outreach Lead), Dr Pratima Jain (Consultant Paediatrics/Neonates), Dawn Patrice (Specialist Dietitian), Janet Gethfield (Neonatal Outreach Sister), Lisa Poston (Neonatal Matron) and Joanne Main (Neonatal Nurse, Baby Friendly Initiative Lead) have been supporting this.

They said: “It has been a very exciting moment planning this discharge. It has been great learning for all the team, understanding the importance of the essential adequate nutrients required and how this has a long-term effect on baby’s neurodevelopment.

“Neonatal staff and parents all had questions that we needed to clarify with appropriate members of the team involved with implementing the plan and guidance. It was a very rewarding experience, especially knowing how much it meant to the parents.”

Kiran added: “BMF benefits parents as it supports them to be able to exclusively breastfeed/give breastmilk to their baby as they had planned/guided beyond the point of discharge.

“Mothers would often feel that their breast milk was not good enough for baby with a slower growth. This would lead them to offering preterm formula feeds sooner to allow discharge from hospital.

“It also benefits staff as it enables them to support parents appropriately and discharge them home without any rushed decisions to offer supplemental feeds. Parents are more relaxed and happier to continue offering breast milk. This will enable our breastfeeding rates in the hospital to improve.”

Breast Milk Fortifier is a nutritional supplement that can be added to expressed breast milk. It contains extra calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. It helps to promote overall growth, including brain and bone development. It is made from cow’s milk, but the proteins have been broken down (hydrolysed) so they are more easily tolerated.

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