It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and organizations all over the world are taking action to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers. We thought we’d share some of best resources we’ve come across for parents of premature babies. Early birth and the NICU environment present unique challenges for nursing mothers and their babies, but human milk remains the best nutrition for preemies, and there’s help out there. From lactation consultants to milk bank volunteers, there are many people contributing their time and expertise to expand access to human milk for the babies who need it most.

Hand to Hold has many resources for parents of preemies, including information on how to manage breastfeeding and pumping in the NICU. This interview with a lactation consultant provides basic information about what NICU-based lactation consultants do and practical advice for pumping mothers.

La Leche League International has extensive information on their website related to providing milk for babies in the NICU, from advice on how to position a preemie who is learning to breastfeed, to pumping for babies who aren’t able to nurse.

The March of Dimes is also a good resource for information related to premature birth, including feeding in the NICU. They give practical information about what to expect and how to help babies get the best start possible, whether they’re able to nurse yet or not.

Of course, lactation consultants in the NICU are invaluable resources for personal guidance and help when problems arise. They can answer questions and provide encouragement and support for new mothers. And if, for any reason, a mother isn't able to provide her own milk, there is a growing network of milk banks that are making donated milk available to babies who need it. As always, talking to your baby's nurses, doctors, and lactation consultants is the best place to start in deciding what's best for your family. They can help guide you in making decisions regarding feeding in the NICU.

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