Breastfeeding an infant with neurological problems

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  • 1. Breastfeeding an infant with neurological problems How does breastfeeding help my Are there special benefits for a baby? baby with neurological problems? Breast milk: Breastfeeding helps the baby develop coordination of the muscles and nervous • is more nutritious and easier to system. The jaw and mouth movements digest than formula needed for breastfeeding help with this. • gives immune protection not found in formula The extra closeness and stimulation of being at the breast can enhance the relationship • lowers risk of infections between mother and baby. • helps minimize allergies • helps the digestive system mature; What challenges could my baby protects against some bowel have with breastfeeding? problems An infant with neurological problems • lowers risk of Sudden Infant Death usually is either: Syndrome (SIDS) • hypotonic (has poor muscle tone) • promotes eye and brain or development • hypertonic (has overreactive muscle tone) • is more economical than formula Your infant may tend to: When you breastfeed: • have a non-rhythmic suck • you create a special bond with your baby • arch the body • your baby’s mouth and • overreact to stimulation tongue coordination improves, which • do too much “rooting” will help speech skills • bite when swallowing (tonic bite reflex) • you burn more calories than usual • have weak reflexes for sucking, swallowing, and gagging • your uterus may shrink toward its pre-pregnancy size more • get tired more easily: may not nurse quickly long enough to get the hind milk, which has the most calories For more details, see the education sheet “Breastfeeding.” Breastfeeding - neuro Page 1 of 3
  • 2. How can I help my baby Try breastfeeding using a sling to keep baby breastfeed? flexed, and to free up your hand to support the chin and jaw. Feed often (8 to 12 times in 24 hours). You may need to wake your baby to feed. Look for mouth or hand movement even if the baby’s eyes are closed. This usually means the infant is in a lighter sleep and can wake up more easily. Other ways to wake the baby: undress for a diaper change, or make skin-to-skin contact. A baby with low muscle tone usually sucks better when the head and bottom are level, Once baby starts sucking, look for jaw, ear, or close to it. Support your baby using and temple movement. If not seen, the pillows on your lap. infant’s suck is probably not as strong as it needs to be. Sometimes the dancer-hand position (see picture below) can be used to support the infant’s chin. Modified Slide the hand under your breast forward, so cradle hold you are supporting the breast with 3 fingers rather than 4. Form a U-shape with your thumb and forefinger to cradle your baby’s chin. This will help your baby press the nipple and areola between the gums. If the infant tends to arch the body, try to hold the infant flexed, with knees bent (as if sitting) and spine rounded. Swaddling in a blanket in a flexed position can help. If your baby does not start sucking, express dancer- some breast milk onto the nipple by hand or hand use a pump to get “let-down” started. This position can encourage the infant to suck. A breast pump can boost your milk supply while you get started. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse practitioner. Breastfeeding - neuro Page 2 of 3
  • 3. How will I know if my baby is Get comfortable before starting a feeding. getting enough milk? Find a special place—perhaps where you can look out of a window. Cuddle and chat Your baby should nurse every 2 or 3 hours with your baby during each feeding. (8 to 12 times in 24 hours), including some feedings during the night. Keep what you need at hand—maybe the phone and something to drink. You may Watch for this pattern in your baby’s urine want to listen to music or a relaxing and stools during the first week after birth: program. If you are comfortable and well supported physically and emotionally, you Days Wet diapers Stool Number of stools will have more energy to support your baby. after (at least this color (at least this many many in 24 hrs) in 24 hrs) birth Questions? 1st day 1 possible stool smears in first 24 This sheet is not specific to you and your greenish- hours black baby, but provides general information. If 2nd day 2 1 to 2 stools you have any questions, please talk to the rd 3 day 3 stool turns 2 to 4 stools nurse or lactation specialist. yellower, 4th day 4 softer, and 3 to 5 stools At home, if you cannot tell if your baby is seedier getting enough milk, or if you have other 5th day 5 yellow, 3 to 5 stools concerns, please call the clinic. If you need soft, seedy a pump or a lactation specialist, call: Hollister at 1-800-323-4060, or What else do I need to know? Medela at 1-800-835-5968. If the infant has a non-rhythmic suck, try La Leche League, International provides using a rocking chair, and offer extra chin help and support to breastfeeding mothers support while breastfeeding. over the phone and in support groups. For information, call 1-800-525-3243. Breastfeeding in calm surroundings with few distractions can help the infant who Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota easily overreacts to stimulation. Patient/Family Education 2525 Chicago Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55404 Take care of yourself. You will be spending 01/09 Copyright a lot of time each day feeding your baby. This sheet is not specific to Patience is important. Breastfeeding - neuro Page 3 of 3