Q&A: When Can My Preemie Breastfeed?

At what gestational age can preemies breastfeed?
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ByCatherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC
Lactation Specialist
Updated
Mar 2017
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There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, but new research shows that preemies have the ability to go to breast and take some milk earlier than originally thought possible. Once your baby can breathe on her own, skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo mother care) helps stimulate breastfeeding behavior. If your baby is not ready to swallow much, go ahead and let her try (she won’t take much milk, so it’s totally safe). In one Swedish study, even some 28 and 29 weekers have been able to take some milk from the breast. And many babies in the NICU have been able to fully breastfeed by around 32 to 34 weeks gestation.

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