Breastfeeding in the NICU

The Canberra Hospital campus is a baby friendly accredited hospital and we encourage your baby to be breastfed.

The Canberra Hospital campus is a baby friendly accredited hospital and we encourage your baby to be breastfed. 

Many babies in the NICU and SCN are unable to breastfeed at first. They are fed through a tube until they are strong enough and continue to grow. You can express your milk and let us freeze it so it can be stored and used later. This also helps ensure you have a good milk supply.

If your baby can take a milk feed, breast milk can generally be given. We encourage all mothers to provide breast milk for their baby. The first milk, colostrum, can be collected in labelled syringes and fed to your baby.

A bedside Nurse or Lactation Consultant can provide you with a pump kit and help you begin expressing through a breast pump after 24 hours of hand expressing.

We provide containers and labels for milk storage. Please ask your baby’s nurse for more information.

Expressing room

The Expressing Room in the SCN provides you with an area to express breast milk in private and comfort, away from clinical and public areas.

The room is available 24 hours a day. Please remember to bring your kit to attach to the electric pump. Males are not allowed in the expressing room for privacy of others.

Mobile electric breast pumps are also located in your baby’s room. Please ask your nurse if you would prefer to use one of these to express next to your baby.

Storage and use of expressed breast milk

It’s essential that Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) is stored correctly. This includes:

  • storing it in the body compartment of the refrigerator—never in the refrigerator door
  • storing it in the Nutrition Room freezer at The Canberra Hospital
  • never refreezing the milk after it’s been thawed
  • correctly labelling the milk with your name, date and time of collection using the baby labels your nurse gives you

Your EBM is collected from the NICU and SCN refrigerators in the morning by the Nutrition Room technician. The milk is then poured into individual amounts for your baby’s feeds over the next 24 hours. The remaining EBM is frozen for later use.

If your baby is only taking small amounts of EBM, please express and divide the milk into syringes. Please number these syringes.

We ask parents to not place or remove milk from the fridges. This is done by the nurse caring for your baby who double checks that it’s labelled correctly and given to the right baby.

Page last updated on: 27 Sep 2018