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Book Review:
A Premie Needs His Mother:
First Steps to Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby: Parts 1 and 2

Produced by Jane Morton, MD

Available from LLLI
No. 1328-30, $125.00

Ann Calandro
Waxhaw NC USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 39 No. 5, October-November 2003, p. 115.

[We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time, and books and videos may go out of print (as this one has).]

Dr. Morton has produced two videos especially for mothers of premature babies. The first video was designed to be viewed by an expectant mother anticipating preterm delivery. It is also useful for mothers who have recently delivered a premature infant. Filmed at Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, part of Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, USA, the videos have colorful and interesting stories from real mothers interacting with their tiny babies. Mothers explain their feelings of loss and grief, as well as how positive they feel about their role in providing their milk for their premature infants. Doctors explain just how important the role of human milk is in assuring a healthy life for premature babies. Mothers are validated for pumping and assured that their milk is "almost vital" for their baby's growth and health. The film shows that the role of the mother and her milk is just as important as the role of the physicians and nurses. Several mothers are interviewed; two are physicians. A teen mother is interviewed about pumping for her little boy. Her reason? "He needs all the help he can get!"

The second part of the first video explains how to effectively pump milk. Pump early, pump often, stick to a schedule of at least eight pumpings a day. Build a big supply (20-24 ounces/day) early so that when the baby comes to the breast, breastfeeding will be achieved with less effort. There is a nice explanation of hand expression, and especially the use of pumping by hand to get the final drops of milk after pumping with a double electric pump. The importance of kangaroo care (skin-to-skin holding) is emphasized.

The second video teaches mothers about transitioning the growing baby to the breast. A good time for mothers to view this video is when their baby is about ready to begin oral feedings. The professionals in this video recommend gavage feeding until breastfeeding begins. In this hospital, after breastfeeding is well established, supplements with a bottle may begin.

The video points out that babies frequently take a long time to learn to breastfeed, and urges mothers to be encouraged by small steps. At the same time, mothers are validated for their natural feelings of disappointment with slow progress. Caring for a premature baby is often emotionally and physically exhausting for new mothers, so rest and exercise are encouraged.

Breastfeeding can encourage physical and emotional healing for new mothers. Mothers' milk is a powerful gift that only they can give. These videos reinforce that a mother's milk is more valuable than gold.

A Premie Needs His Mother provides encouragement and helps teach new parents about breastfeeding. It would be surprising if any mother viewing them would choose not to provide human milk for her baby. The videos are also useful for anyone who works with breastfeeding mothers. Nurses, Leaders, and lactation consultants can all learn from the expertise of those who have been instrumental in helping mothers achieve breastfeeding success. Far too many premature babies never receive human milk. Far too many mothers who begin pumping for their babies are not successful. The tips and solid information presented in these videos may have a positive impact on these poor statistics and make a real difference in the lives of mothers and their premature babies.

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