Parenteral Nutrition (PN) is often used to feed extremely premature babies or babies who are born sick at birth.
What is Parenteral Nutrition ?
Parenteral Nutrition (PN) is nutrition in a liquid form that is given directly into your baby's bloodstream intravenously (through a vein). PN includes nutrients such as fats, minerals, vitamins, electrolytes and carbohydrates and is used in patients that cannot eat or absorb enough food from tube feeding or by mouth to maintain a good nutritional status.
How does PN work?
Why does my baby need PN?
The period of time on PN will be dependent on your baby's needs and tolerance of milk feeds. Your baby's nursing and medical staff will decide when the right time to introduce milk feeds is for your baby and they will closely monitor their tolerance and gradually increase the quantity as tolerated.
They will often start with tube feeds before they progress on to any oral feeds, but this will be dependant on your baby's specific needs.
PN provides the nutrients your baby needs to help your baby develop and grow. An infusion pump is used to administer the PN to your baby. This allows the nutrients to flow into your baby's bloodstream over a period of time. In the newborn baby it is common for the umbilical cord veins to be used for this.
At first, PN may be your baby's only source of nutrition until your baby is ready to start receiving milk feeds.
Although premature and sick babies can have milk feeds, these often need to be introduced slowly so that their gut can learn to cope with them.
Very premature babies are usually fed with PN in the beginning as they have an immature digestive system that needs time to develop enough to tolerate the amount of milk to meet their nutritional needs.
For both premature and sick babies, PN can be used to ensure your baby is getting enough nutrition whilst milk feeds are gradually being introduced.