Initially, most infants admitted to the NICU will not eat by mouth. They will receive IV fluids for nutrition and hydration. Once feedings are initiated, they will often be given through a feeding tube that is passed through the nose or mouth down to the stomach. Developmentally infants can typically begin oral feeding at around 33-34 weeks. It may be later for some infants depending on their clinical status. It may take some time for your infant to be able to eat everything they require by mouth. The feeding tube will remain in place while your infant continues to work on oral feeding.
While your infant is in the NICU the best nutrition for him/her is your breast milk. You should begin pumping 1-2 hours after you deliver or as soon as you are able to do so. In the event that you can not provide breast milk or your supply is not enough to keep up with the amount your infant is eating then we do offer donor breast milk to supplement your supply. We also have specialized formulas made exclusively for premature infants.
Infants who are born premature have increased nutritional requirements compared to infants who are born at term. For this reason, we will add fortification to your infant’s feedings to provide more calories and more minerals/nutrients.