How to Gather Colostrum to Prepare for Breastfeeding
Establishing breastfeeding can take time, effort and good support. If you are planning on breastfeeding, it's a good idea to get some breastfeeding support before you have had your baby.
It's worth collecting colostrum from 37 weeks in pregnancy. This can help to satisfy your baby before your milk supply comes in. In some instances, it may prevent the need for formula if there challenges in getting breastfeeding established. It's also a useful time to practice hand-expressing when you don't yet have the pressure of a hungry baby!
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is a thick, yellowish, sticky liquid that is the first form of breast milk. It's rich in protein, fats and immune-boosting properties. It also contains good bacteria to help colonize your baby's gut. Colostrum also helps to stabilise the baby's glucose levels. Colostrum is released in tiny amounts, it's liquid gold. A small amount goes a long way.
How do you Collect it?
- Use clean hands to hand express the colostrum from the breast. Warmth can be helpful e.g. a warm compress or express after you've taken a shower.
- Have a sterile container such a syringe or small jar with a lid ready to contain the colostrum.
- Gently massage the breast towards the nipple to stimulate the let-down reflex.
- Cup your breast with your thumb at the top and fingers below, making a 'c-shape'.
- Press your thumb and fingers together for 10 seconds. Release and repeat.
- Move around the breast e.g in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction and repeat the pressure.
- Store the drops of colostrum in a syringe, which you then place in the fridge.
- Express 2-4 times a day. At the end of each day, place the labeled syringe or container in the freezer.
Stimulating the breasts can cause some contractions in your uterus. Don't be worried about this.
If you are having a hospital birth, you can take the colostrum with you in a freezer bag. Make sure you have mentioned colostrum on your birth plan, so you can be supported by your midwives.