Breastfeeding and Nutrition in the NICU

Even though your baby has come early or has been unable to be fed due to illness, it is still possible to breastfeed your infant in the NICU. Breastmilk is a valuable contribution that only you can provide for your baby.

We encourage you to breastfeed as soon as your baby is able. We are so supportive of helping you in this process, that we'll provide you with complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner every day if you provide your breast milk for your baby. If your baby is too small or too weak to nurse, we encourage mothers to pump their breasts and save the milk. We will use the milk for future feedings. Every patient room comes equipped with an electric breast pump as well as a waterless milk warmer.

We will provide you with the information you will need to pump and store your breastmilk and a list of businesses that rent electric breast pumps. Check with your insurance company regarding your benefits for receiving a breast pump. We respect the decision of mothers who cannot or do not wish to breastfeed. If you have a formula preference, please inform your baby's nurse. NICU specific lactation consultants are available to assist mothers with all aspects of milk expression and breast feeding.

Nutritional Support

Your baby’s growth and nutrition plan will be monitored daily by a registered dietitian and the medical team. It is very important that your sick or premature baby gets good nutrition. This will help your baby grow bigger, stronger, and healthier. Research in our NICU shows that we are able to grow premature babies better than the national average. We have even grown babies weighing less than one pound at birth to a normal size baby!


Sick or premature babies may not be strong enough to drink milk. They may also be too sick or small to digest a large amount of food. There are many ways the medical team makes sure your baby gets enough nutrition. 

Nutritional Support Includes:
· Giving tube feedings of milk into the stomach
· Giving nutrition in an IV bag
· Adding human milk fortifiers to breast milk
· Giving special formula to premature babies
· Giving vitamin supplements
· Giving probiotics that have good bacteria (like those in yogurt)
· Helping with bottle or breast feedings


Many expert staff members are available to answer your questions and to help your baby thrive. Mothers can also play an important part in their baby’s nutrition plan by providing breast milk. Babies born less than 1500grams (3.3 pounds) or more than 6 weeks prematurely will be given donor breastmilk if mom does not have enough at the start. Lactation consultants are also available to help mothers increase their milk supply.


Our NICU is unique because we use research to help us learn more about nutrition. We have learned how to make babies grow better and get to full feedings faster. Our goal is to make sure very baby gets the best nutrition possible, including your baby too.

The NICU lactation consultants can be contacted at 402.559.3375.