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Colostrum harvesting prior to birth?

(10 Posts)
midori1999 Sun 05-Jun-11 13:29:41

I have GD and would therefore like to try and build up a store of colostrum prior to my baby being born, in order to avoid formula being given if her blood sugar is low after the birth. I haven't been able to get a huge amount of info from my hospital as they had never heard of it, but the BF co-ordinator did her best to get as much info as possible for me.

They have said to express from 36 weeks, as many or as few times I am comfortable with by hand and after a shower might be easier. They are supplying the pre-sterlised small bottles for me to express into. (the same ones they provide in NICU and I would imagine for donor milk banks?) Also, that the milk can be stored in the fridge and added to at each expressing for 3 days, then to freeze.

I am 35+5 today and have tried a couple of times over the last couple of days to hand express some colostrum, just as a sort of 'trial# I suppose. I have gotten maybe 2-3mls each time, combined from both sides. I knew it would be tiny amounts, but I admit I feel concerned I may not get enough to be of any use.

Can anyone please offer any advice, information or reasurrance?

Thandeka Sun 05-Jun-11 13:41:37

Best thing to do is get syringes. You can express what you can into a spoon and suck it up into syringe and put it in fridge. Repeat often within 24 hours til you have a syringe ful and put in freezer and start again with a fresh syringe. Syringes useful as can be syringed direct into bubs mouth (or in my case into her nasogastric tube).
You do look like a heroin addict with a spoon a syringe and golden brown liquid but it's worth it!

mawbroon Sun 05-Jun-11 16:08:14

A newborn only needs something like 7mls of colostrum for a feed, so if you're getting 2-3mls, then it is quite a significant amount.

Agree with Thankdeka that a syringe would probably be better as you won't have any wasted clinging to the bottle. I expressed and then sucked the colostrum straight from the nipple, drop by drop!

Good luck with it!

japhrimel Sun 05-Jun-11 18:54:49

Bottles? They've got to be kidding! hmm

What you need are pre-sterilised 1ml or 2ml syringes with the pre-sterilised caps. You scoop the colostrum into the syringe as you express and then freeze the whole syringes with the caps on.

If you're getting 2-3ml each time, that's amazing IMO. When DD was in SCBU, I couldn't get more than 0.5ml a time for the first day or so.

midori1999 Sun 05-Jun-11 20:33:09

Thankyou very much.

Can I just buy the pre-sterlised syringes from a chemist/pharmacy?

TruthSweet Sun 05-Jun-11 20:48:29

Yes - I've bought some from Boots the chemist for DH's printer inks and for dispensing medicines to the DCs.

I think they do 1ml, 5ml and 10ml syringes so you might get a couple of different sizes for different days (e.g. a couple of 1mls for 'topping-up' if needed, a couple of 5ml syringes for the first day and a couple of 10ml for subsequent days). It doesn't matter if you collect it over a few expressing sessions or lots as long as it is frozen within 24hours of the 1st expressing.

Have a load of ice packs ready frozen in the freezer and a cool bag to hand so that when you go into labour your OH can pack some to take with you for after the birth and leave some behind to take in if they are needed at a later date (pack a couple in a ziplock with 'TAKE ME' [and your name/DOB] or similar written on them so OH doesn't get the wrong ones in the rush). You wouldn't want to take your whole supply with you in case they got forgotten and defrosted in the cool bag while you were labouring.

Let the labour ward know when you phone up to say you are coming in that you will be bringing frozen colostrum with you so they can arrange for freezer space.

Good luck with your new baby.

Beveridge Sun 05-Jun-11 21:10:02

Definitely use syringes to suck the colostrum straight from your nipple - I only got 0.3ml on my first go so if you're getting 2-3mls you're doing brilliantly! Every drop counts so keep going and you will be amazed at how it mounts up.

Good luck, have to say I am really wishing I could have done something similiar prior to DS's birth but I went into spontaneous labour at 32 weeks and have no history of GD, so short of being psychic, I wouldn't ever have been a candidate for this.

I managed to express a proportion of DS's first feeds but he had to have formula top ups for the first 48 hours till my milk came in - very frustrating to go along to neonatal with my syringes to continually find they weren't quite enough. It's a fantastic idea, keep the faith!

MadderHat Mon 06-Jun-11 12:53:17

I was told to freeze once a day - the three day limit is for breastmilk storage for use not freezing and not colostrum.

Definitely use syringes. The bottles are way too big, the midwives are thinking about breastmilk quantities, not antenatal colostrum. Also, the amounts for feeding are small, so the syringes are small.

I needed 1ml syringes initially, then 2ml, then 5 ml. I found it a challenge to get syringes, the hospital wasn't set up to provide capped ones, so I got concentric Luer syringes from the pharmacy which I steam sterilised and then frozen nozzle up inside sterile breastmilk storage bags. Use a clean syringe for each expressing.
I had a low yield initially (0.2ml per breast) which jumped up in steps, leading to around 2-2.5ml per breast after 10 days. I found it easiest to express droplets onto my nipple and then suck them up with a syringe, then freeze the syringe inside a sterile breastmilk collection bag labelled with name, date, time and hospital number. The quantities were too small to squirt the colostrum into the bag as that would be very wasteful when it came to defrosting and trying to get it out to feed to baby. It also struck me that to get it into baby, dropping from a syringe into the mouth might be the easiest method.
I did it after a shower, or I used hot flannels and massage, somewhere calm where I could think about my baby. If she kicked, it helped. I did it twice a day. I had 70 ml by the time my baby was born.

I agree with TruthSweet, you need freezer packs, to have "batches" ready for DH to bring in. You need to discuss storage at the hospital with them, I was told there'd be freezer space, then that there wasn't - and I was induced so it wasn't as if I was unexpected! It should be used or binned 24 hours after being taken out of the freezer.

All might go well, my daughter nursed successfully and the colostrum wasn't needed.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Mon 06-Jun-11 13:03:08

DD1 had low blood sugar after birth because I had GD, and the midwife helped me hand express colostrum, and we gave her about 3ml, and that was enough to get her sugars back up. So you're doing fabulously. I'm so glad this has been recommended for you - I wish someone had recommended it to me last time, because I was very lucky to have enough to express 'on the spot' and having banked some would have been better.

MotherPanda Fri 17-Jun-11 14:58:17

Is there any other time when its reccomened/useful to express colostrum - or is it only in cases of GD? My breasts have been leaking since 22 week (35 weeks now)- i probably should have contacted a milk bank or something, I know its very useful for premature babies. Has anyone heard of this?

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