Antenatal expressing of colostrum is the hand expression and collection of colostrum during pregnancy. Expressed colostrum is collected and frozen and used to feed a baby after birth, if required.
From about the 16th week of pregnancy, a mother’s breasts begin to make colostrum.
Before expressing colostrum antenatally it is important to discuss this with your midwife or obstetrician.
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Some potential reasons for expressing colostrum antenatally include if a mother has:
- Diabetes. A baby born to a mother who has diabetes during pregnancy is at risk of low blood sugar after birth. Receiving extra colostrum at this time can help a baby’s blood sugar level to stabilise.
- Conditions which may make it hard for a baby to breastfeed well, at least in the early postnatal period. For example babies diagnosed antenatally with cleft lip and/or palate, or a neurological or cardiac condition. Babies with these conditions may not be able to breastfeed well and so a mother will need to express her milk to be able to give it to her baby. Expressing colostrum antenatally can mean she has extra on hand if needed. It also gives her practice at expressing before her baby is born.
- A family history of cows’ milk protein sensitivity. A genetically predisposed baby who receives formula in the early postnatal period may have an increased risk of developing this condition.
Some other potential reasons could be:
breast surgery (including breast reduction)
previous poor milk supply