Breastfeeding Skills in Preterm Infants

Whilst breastfeeding is the desired feeding outcome for preterm infants, the attainment of oral feeding skills varies widely between infants and little is known about the development of preterm breastfeeding skills.  Further, the use of bottle-feeding teats and nipple shields is common, and the degree of breast fullness varies between feeds, yet the impact of these on the achievement of full oral feeding is not known. In this project the trajectory of breastfeeding skill development will be investigated. We will also examine the effects of different teats and breastfeeding conditions on milk transfer volume, intraoral vacuum, suck-swallow-breathe coordination and breastfeeding duration. Information gained from this study will provide an evidence base for facilitation of breastfeeding in the neonatal nursery setting.

Preterm infants’ sleeping and feeding patterns and use of lactation aides following discharge home

Infant settling, sleeping patterns and feeding are inextricably linked and impact maternal-infant attachment and family life. Very preterm infants (born <33/40) have shorter breastfeeding durations than their term counterparts1, and anecdotal evidence suggests their mothers encounter more challenges with regard to infant settling and breastfeeding. Data relating to infant sleeping and settling and feeding patterns, maternal evaluations of the breastfeeding experience, and the incidence of breastfeeding complications will be analysed to determine common challenges for parents of preterm infants following discharge home. This study will highlight the educational and support needs of families of very preterm infants and inform the practice of neonatal nursery staff, general practitioners and community child health nurses.