Breastfeeding in the NICU

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

Breastfeeding in the NICU and SCN

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.
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.

Expressing in NICU and SCN

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. Mobile electric breast pumps are available in your baby’s room. We also have an Expressing Room in the SCN if you would prefer to express breast milk in private 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.

Storage and Use of Expressed Breast Milk

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

This includes:

  • correctly labelling the milk with your name, date and time of collection using the baby labels your nurse gives you
  • storing EBM in the body compartment of the refrigerator—never in the refrigerator door if you have expressed at home
  • never refreezing the milk after it’s been thawed
  • transporting labelled EBM in cooler bag from home to NICU/SCN
  • giving the EBM to the nurse caring for your baby. They will double check it is labelled correctly
  • not placing or removing 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.

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. To assist the nutrition team if your baby is only taking small amounts of EBM, please express and divide the milk into syringes.

Page last updated on: 1 May 2020