Antenatal expression of colostrum

Antenatal expression of colostrum – Transcript

If you are pregnant right now, your body will have been producing colostrum, which is the first milk – very low volume milk that’s packed full of antibodies. (benefits of breastfeeding)This colostrum will have been produced from about the 16th or 17th week of pregnancy, and it’s a great idea towards the birth, maybe the last two weeks before your due date, to practice, learning how to hand express your milk, because after the birth if you get a little bit engorged, for instance, you will be able to use that skill to help your baby to latch on better, and to keep you comfortable as well.

Also, it might be that your baby is separated very briefly from you for a time, and you need to express that milk. It might be that your baby isn’t latching on very well or not latching at all. So expressing your milk, being able to get that milk out of your breast, without anybody really helping you, it will be excellent, and the more you practice the better.

And there are some special circumstances where it can be useful, once you’ve learned that skill of hand expression, to express your milk maybe a day or two before you’re about to have a baby, so that this milk can be given to you baby if there’s any chance that you may be separated after the birth.

And one of those circumstances, for instance could be that you’ve been given a date to have an elective caesarean section – and  I do know a lady who went in to have twins on a certain date (so she had that date given to her), and she was able to express her milk beforehand, and this was very very useful – because while she was briefly separated from those twins, they were able to have her milk straightaway.

It may be that you go into labour and you are told that you will have to be induced at some point. Even then, expressing a little of your breast milk can be so useful, once your baby has been born.

If you know that your baby is going to be born with a cleft lip or palate, then once again, being able to save some of that colostrum before the birth can be very very useful. We know it can take time to establish breastfeeding and your baby may be separated from you for a little while in those circumstances, so this is a really good preparation.

If you have diabetes, your baby has a higher risk of having low blood sugar in the first 24 hours after the birth, and having your colostrum all ready to give to your baby, will help to raise those levels of blood glucose.

Mother with her newborn baby in a hospital bedIf you know that you have a medical condition or some other circumstance that might make it more difficult for you to establish a supply, then once again expressing your colostrum before the birth can be very very useful – and it’s a good rule of thumb to have a chat with your midwifery team, in advance, to get all the help and support you need to do this.

And please remember that when you are expressing colostrum, you’ll be producing it in very small amounts. Ensure that the midwifery team is able to help you with equipment that you’ll need to collect that milk, and remember to label it and date it and store it correctly.

And it’s great to know that you will have this extra colostrum after the birth to assist you, as you try to get breastfeeding established – and we know that can take quite a while. Babies do need to feed eight to 12 times every 24 hours, and at night.(normal patterns) If your baby isn’t feeding well this colostrum can be given at any point, and it’s going to be that added asset, to help things go smoothly.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


If you require the reference sources for this article, please contact us. We will complete your request within 28 days.

Comments / Feedback

Part of what we provide depends on the feedback of its users. With that in mind we would love for you to give feedback on this video. Click here to leave feedback.

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt