The benefits to hand-expressing colostrum during pregnancy
Updated: Apr 29
Did you know that if you're producing during pregnancy, you can hand-express colostrum to freeze for baby's arrival?! This was hands-down one of the best things my midwife told me about before my first was born. If you're planning to breastfeed, this could help you out too!
I started noticing little drops in my bra at about 32 weeks pregnant, and asked my midwife if I should 'do anything about it'... I didn't know, mama! Could it clog if I don't express? Did I have only a small supply that was being taken from my baby as it leaked out? I had so many questions and I didn't know where to start. Here are a few things I learned about colostrum in this process:
If you start producing early, you will produce colostrum until your body gets the signal that the placenta has detached, and to start producing milk. This happens after babe is born, so everything you can get out before then is a bonus!
It's thick, and yellow. Full of enriching vitamins and fat, tailor made for the newborniest of babes.
Colostrum is a laxative and will aid your little one in his or her first poop!
Some people produce it early, and some don't! With my second baby, it came much sooner than with my first, but I don't think I ever fully 'dried up' as my kids are 17 months apart and Owen weaned at 12 months.
You can hand-express it and freeze it for baby!
I hand expressed my colostrum in 3ml oral syringes that I'd gotten from my midwife, and froze them as I went. As colostrum is quite thick, it helped me to put my hot water bottle onto my boobs for 5 minutes to get things flowing. Then, I'd hand express (drop by drop) into a shot glass for a few minutes per side. It often took me a few sessions per day to collect my 3ml syringe, but I didn't have kids at the time, so I had all the time in the world. With my second, colostrum was way easier to collect and didn't take me nearly as much time.
In those first days home with both of our babes, it was so nice to have the syringes on hand so that my husband could take over a feed to let me sleep, or so that my nipples could simply catch a break! Not to mention, both of my girls started gaining immediately after birth, and I truly thing the colostrum syringes were a big reason why!
Yes, mama, it might sound weird but it was 100% worth the looks from my husband while I hand-expressed into his shot glass from Cancun.