When babies are born very early, they can't drink milk from the breast or from a bottle like older babies can. They need to have milk put into their tummies, through a tube passed down through their nose or mouth. The first choice of milk for babies who are born early is their mother's breastmilk – it helps them to fight infections and is good for their brain growth. This means that mothers are asked to get milk out of their breasts to give to their baby, using their hands and a machine called a breast pump – this is called 'expressing'.
In the first few days after birth, it is normal for mothers to make a very small amount of milk and this should increase gradually the more that they try to express. Some mothers can find it hard to express milk.
We don't know a lot about how to help mothers to express milk more easily. In this study we aim to find out whether listening to a special recording while expressing milk might help mothers to express more milk and then to breastfeed for longer. The recording is designed to help mothers relax and feel connected to their baby or babies. The recording is a woman's voice talking.
Half the mothers in the study will have normal expressing support from the staff in the neonatal and maternity units. Half the mothers in the study will have normal expressing support and also be given a particular recording to listen to while expressing milk. We will compare the two groups to see how much milk mothers are expressing over the first three weeks of their baby or babies' lives and whether they are breastfeeding up to four months after the baby or babies' due date.
The findings of this study will help guide mothers of babies born early who are expressing milk in the future.
If you want to find out more about how parents of premature babies were involved in planning this trial, and what they think about expressing, breastfeeding and prematurity, then see our public engagement page
If you would like to read more about having a premature baby, including expressing milk, we suggest that you contact Bliss, a special care baby charity:
020 7378 1122
You can also look at Best Beginnings, another children's charity: