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Neonatal Netw. 2008 Nov-Dec;27(6):371-7.

Birth to breast--a feeding care map for the NICU: helping the extremely low birth weight infant navigate the course.

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Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Breast milk has been shown to contribute significantly to positive neurodevelopmental and medical outcomes in the extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infant population. It is crucial that ELBW infants receive their mother's colostrum as a first feeding, followed by expressed breast milk for as long as possible. Evidence-based literature supports the difficult challenges both mothers and ELBW infants face if they are to succeed at breast pumping and breastfeeding. Influencing factors include the medical fragility of the infant, limited frequency and duration of kangaroo care between mother and infant, lack of an adequate volume of breast milk, as well as inconsistent or incorrect information surrounding the use of breast milk and breastfeeding. A feeding care map as described in this article can help the bedside nurse assist the mother-ELBW infant dyad in optimizing breast milk volumes, laying the groundwork for breastfeeding. Displaying supportive practices and preterm infant developmental milestones, the map categorizes infant, maternal, and dyad feeding issues along a progressive time line from admission to discharge.

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