Guide to Colostrum Harvesting for New Mums

February 07 2024 – Lottie & Lysh

Welcome to the World New Baby Outfit
Welcome to the World New Baby Outfit

The Liquid Gold Rush

Welcome to the exclusive club of motherhood, where the initiation rites include midnight cravings, a newfound appreciation for stretchy pants, and, of course, learning about the wonders of colostrum.

Colostrum, often referred to as liquid gold, is the first form of milk produced by mammals, including humans, just before and after childbirth. It's packed with nutrients and antibodies, making it a superheroine's first gift to her newborn. But did you know you can start collecting this precious substance before your baby even arrives? Welcome to the world of colostrum harvesting!

What is Colostrum Harvesting?

Colostrum harvesting is the process of expressing and storing colostrum during the latter stages of pregnancy, typically starting from 36 weeks onwards. It's like preparing your baby's first fridge stash before they've even entered the kitchen. The idea is to have a supply ready for your newborn, particularly useful if you encounter any initial breastfeeding challenges.

Why Bother with Colostrum Harvesting?

UK-based studies and healthcare recommendations highlight several benefits of colostrum harvesting. For starters, colostrum is chock-full of antibodies and immune-boosting goodies that help protect your baby against infections. It's also high in protein and low in fat, making it easier for newborn tummies to digest.

But there's more! Harvesting can be a game-changer if breastfeeding is initially difficult or if your baby needs a little extra help in the beginning. Think of it as your baby's first supplement – all-natural and from the best producer in town: you.

How to Harvest Colostrum

Before you start, chat with your midwife or healthcare provider to make sure it's safe for you to begin expressing colostrum. Once you've got the green light, you'll need a few supplies: a hand express pump or clean hands, small sterile syringes (to store the colostrum), and labels to note the date of expression.

Here's a simplified step-by-step guide:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly. Cleanliness is next to motherliness, after all.
  2. Find a comfortable, quiet place. Think of it as your mini-spa moment.
  3. Gently massage your breast. You're aiming to encourage the flow, not summon a genie.
  4. Start expressing by hand or pump. Remember, colostrum is produced in small quantities, so don't expect a flood. A few drops are a great start!
  5. Draw the expressed colostrum into the syringe, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer.

When and How Much?

The best time to start is around 36 weeks, but only with medical approval. As for quantity, every drop counts. Colostrum is produced in small amounts, so don't be discouraged if you're not filling syringes like a dairy farm. Even a little can make a big difference for your baby.

Tips and Tricks

  • Be Patient: It might take a few tries to get the hang of it, so don't stress.
  • Stay Comfortable: Find a position that feels right for you. This isn't a one-size-fits-all situation.
  • Label Everything: Trust me, in the post-birth haze, dates will blend together. Label each syringe with the date of expression.
  • Consult Professionals: Keep in touch with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for support and advice.

The Final Squeeze

Colostrum harvesting isn't just about collecting those golden drops; it's a chance to connect with your body and your baby in a unique way. Plus, it's reassuring to know you've got a backup plan in the freezer.

Remember, every pregnancy and breastfeeding journey is unique, so what works wonders for one mum might not for another. The key is to find what works best for you and your baby. And while you're navigating this new adventure, keep your sense of humour handy – you're going to need it.

Happy harvesting! Here's to beginning your breastfeeding journey with a little less stress and a lot more confidence.

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