Here at PregnancyandBaby.ie, today we’re talking about colostrum, the liquid gold that you may already be familiar with. We’ll be discussing the advantages of colostrum, in addition to offering some helpful tips and tricks on how to express and get the most out of this precious fluid.
Firstly, let’s start with what colostrum actually is. Between around the 12-16-week mark of your pregnancy, you may begin to notice milk leaking. This is known as colostrum, and it’s being produced in your body at this time. And for the first couple of days after your little one is born, you’ll be making small amounts of colostrum, too. This is different to your more mature breast milk, which typically comes in around 2-4 days after birth.
What makes colostrum beneficial to my baby?
It doesn’t get it’s liquid gold title for nothing! Colostrum is advantageous to your baby’s health due to its antibodies ,antioxidants, white blood cells, proteins and more, even in just a few drops produced. It also promotes good bacteria, helping to reduce the risk of infections. It even works as a laxative to help your baby’s first bowel movement along, in addition to regulating baby’s blood sugar level and keeping them at an optimal temperature.
If your baby is born premature, colostrum is especially important, helping their immunity to ward off illnesses. Colostrum is also particularly helpful for babies born via caesarean, helping to break up the mucous often found in babies born via this method.
How much colostrum is it normal to make?
The answer is, it depends! A factor that makes the production vary is how many times you feed in the first day after your baby is born, but many mothers express around anywhere between 2ml and 20ml per feed in the first 3 days after your baby is born, which visually looks like a few drops. It’s also worth noting that you may discover you have a slightly larger amount of colostrum if you have breastfed previously. It also depends on how many times you breastfeed in the first 24 hours’ post-birth. Although it may look like a small quantity, fear not, it’s a sufficient amount for your little one, and even this seemingly tiny amount contains a wealth of benefits for your baby.
What does colostrum look like?
Generally, colostrum is clear or yellow/gold in colour.
How can I store colostrum?
We recommend the Haakaa Silicone Colostrum Collector! This handy storage tool can be popped in the fridge and freezer and can also be heated as it’s made of 100% food grade silicone. It’s totally reusable and convenient to catch your colostrum.
How Can I express colostrum during pregnancy?
Always speak to your GP regarding expressing. It’s advised that you only express once you’ve reached full term in your pregnancy as it may bring on labour. It’s also recommended that you only express in pregnancy if you’re planning a natural birth.
If you have gestational diabetes, colostrum expression can help during pregnancy, regulating your baby’s blood sugar levels for when they’re born.
Expressing Colostrum after Birth
When you express colostrum after birth, you may need to express every 3-4 hours to promote your milk supply.
How do I express colostrum?
- Firstly, make sure you’ve had enough to drink. Make a wide ‘C-grip’ from the side of your breast using your thumb and index finger. Begin wide, as this will stimulate the ducts that surround your breast.
- Roll your fingers towards your nipple. Be firm but gentle, so that it doesn’t cause any pain.
- Let go to allow the milk ducts to fill up again. Then repeat.
- Collect your colostrum in the Haakaa Silicone Colostrum Collector.
- It is recommended that you hand express each breast for 10-15 minutes, once a day once you’ve reached full term in your pregnancy.
- Label your collector with the date you’ve expressed and place in your collector. Put them in the freezer until baby is born.