When you think of breast milk, you’re probably thinking of the white, Watery stuff you see in baby bottles. But that’s actually mature breastmilk. Before you reach that stage, you’ll have another type of milk which is called colostrum.
Colostrum is the first milk you express. Colloquially, it is known as ‘liquid gold’ because it is yellow or orange in colour and it has huge health benefits for your baby. It’s much thicker than matured breastmilk and has almost a completely different nutrition profile.
Colostrum is full of antibodies and protein, which help build up your baby’s immune system and give new-born the nutrients they need to grow.
Expressing colostrum before birth
Some people start expressing colostrum before birth, known as an antenatal expression or colostrum harvesting. Your body is able to produce colostrum before your baby is born. Some experts believe that the antenatal expression of colostrum a few weeks before delivery could offer some potential benefits to the child after delivery if the mother is not able to initiate breastfeeding immediately after delivery. Antenatal expression of Colostrum is also known as Colostrum harvesting. Advocates of this practice encourage expectant mothers to start this after 36 weeks. There are however opponents of this practice as they believe that it is against the natural order of events.
Here are the top 4 reasons why you may consider antenatal expression
- Your baby may need extra nutrients and a supply of frozen colostrum can help
- Your baby may need special care which means they are separated from you
- Your baby may experience feeding problems and expressed colostrum can be fed from a syringe instead of breastfeeding
- Women with diabetes may choose to express early to address risks of low blood sugar.
Some women also find that expressing colostrum antenatal helps them practice their technique and get used to the feeling of breastfeeding.
Is Antenatal expression safe?
For most mums, expressing colostrum early is safe. But, there are some risk factors to be aware of. You should only express if;
- You’re at risk of preterm labour
- You have been diagnosed with placenta praevia
- You have experienced bleeding during pregnancy
- You have been advised not to by a healthcare professional
You should carefully weigh the decision to express or not to. Should you experience any challenge irrespective of your choice, seek medical advice. You can also reach out to us at https://pregnancynigeria.com/ask-your-doctor/www.pregnancynigeria.com/ we will be happy to help.