Total Parenteral Nutrition, also know as TPN, is used for extremely premature infants or very sick newborn infants.
Nutrients such as glucose, protein and fat solutions are given directly into your baby’s bloodstream intravenously (through a vein). This helps your baby to feed and grow. Babies born very prematurely or sick are usually fed in this way because they have an immature digestive system, which would require them to use up a lot of their energy to feed. TPN allows them to feed without depleting their energy and enables them to absorb the nutrients required to grow and thrive.
TPN provides the full energy requirements to help your baby grow. This is delivered to the baby using an infusion pump, which allows a continual stream of nutrients to flow into the bloodstream over a set period of time. In babies it is very common for the umbilical vein to be used and the tube will be inserted into the belly button.
Generally only very premature or very sick babies will require TPN. To begin with, this may be their only source of nutrition. As your baby begins to grow and becomes stronger, a method called tube feeding will be introduced. This is where nutrients pass directly into your baby’s stomach through a fine tube placed in the mouth or the nose. Once tube feeding has been successfully set up, TPN will be stopped.