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Antenatal expression of colostrum - advice please

(24 Posts)
KellyKettle Sun 02-Oct-11 08:21:16

I'm 36+3 with DC2 and planning a homebirth. I would like a little stock of milk for when the baby arrives in case I need to transfer in (most likely reason is for stitching if I have another 3rd degree tear).

I have an LLL fact sheet on expressing antenatally but I still have some questions if anyone could have a go at answering them I'd be very grateful.

• I'll freeze the milk but when do I need to take it out of the freezer? During labour?
• I don't want to use bottles with the milk, will they provide sterile cups or syringes in the hospital or can buy them?
• How would DH heat the milk?
• How much would a 'serving' of milk for a newborn be?

Fatshionista Sun 02-Oct-11 15:09:31

Take it out of the freezer during labour. If it hasn't defrosted in time put in a pan of warm water.
You can buy them from the hospital or a pharmacy and sterilise them yourself.
In a pan of hot water.
Around 2oz.

When I was taken in after my homebirth I was allowed to breastfeed there. Why can you not breastfeed? Would your baby not be going with you?

MadderHat Sun 02-Oct-11 15:27:13

Getting hold of appropriate syringes is difficult.
Very new born, it can just be a few mls.
Don't take it all out during labour - you can not keep it more than 24 hours and labours can take a while.

FormbyDoula Sun 02-Oct-11 15:34:38

Could you take the baby with you if you transfer in?

KellyKettle Sun 02-Oct-11 18:11:29

Oh yes, sorry, absolutely planned to gave baby with me but if I tear it's through a repair and I think it will need a colorectal surgeon not an obstetrician. I don't know how long that will take and I'm worried the baby might need feeding at a time when I can't.

So take it out of freezer during labour & pop it in a cool bag?

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 19:06:05

I have heard the easiest way is to collect the DROPS of colostrum you will be expressing with a syringe (1ml or 5ml medicine one you can get from pharmacists) by hand expressing and then sucking up the drops (or get OH to do it for you).

This may take a few expressing attempts to collect more than a few drops but freeze on the day what ever you have collected even if it is 1ml (leave some room for the colostrum to expand by pulling the plunger back a bit before freezing). Freezing can be done either in a sterile tupperware style box, ziplock freezer bag or in the packaging the syringe came with.

You can then take one or two of the syringes out of the freeze and move them into the fridge when you go into labour in a zip lock (if you weren't already storing the syringes in a bag).

Even if you don't need the syringes for feeding baby, you could use the colostrum for wiping baby's eyes perhaps.

A newborn baby's stomach holds approx 5-7ml (size of an ordinary marble), a 3 day old baby's stomach is about the size of a shooter marble and a 10 day old is the size of a ping pong ball (60-80mls) so you really don't need much milk in those very early days.

Don't forget also that baby can either be transferred in with you in the ambulance or OH can take her in your car/taxi (when I had a homebirth with DD2 were got transferred for PPH (estimated from bath waterhmm) DH took DD2 in his car and I went in the ambulance alone) so you don't have to leave baby behind with OH.

KellyKettle Sun 02-Oct-11 20:05:20

Oh Truthsweet that's a brilliant idea! Fantastic!

I'll google syringes and see if I can buy some online. I should only need a few shouldn't I?

Can they be warmed standing in water do you think? I can do a trial run I guess.

Thanks so much everyone, that's another thing off my tick list.

Truth I completely hadn't thought about how DC2 would get to the hospital. I'm hoping DD is home for the birth (she's 2.9) but perhaps best if we have grandparents on stand-by to come round if I have to go in.

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 20:24:24

I know you can definitely buy the syringes in Boots (DH wanted some for some computer-y stuff) but if you are buying some Calpol/other liquid meds anytime soon you might see if the pharmacy gives you a syringe or two with it <cheap emoticon needed>

I wouldn't warm the syringes in water in case some water got into the syringe but if you popped a couple in a cup nozzle side up they should soon defrost at room temp.

As to transferring in from a HB I preferred it if DH took the baby in as I didn't want baby being a patient (was worried about me being discharged but baby not being able to until much later). Plus I was NOT happy about carrying a newborn baby in my arms with me post-birth knackered going down a motorway at 70. Car seat safety and all. I did hurt like heck to be parted from DD2 so soon after birth (approx 3-4 hours post birth) but we were very soon reunited.

Really hope you won't need any of this info!

KellyKettle Sun 02-Oct-11 20:31:48

I've just looked online at Boots but I'll try asking in a big branch this week.

I better get a car seat organised too then grin

I hope I don't need it but I want to feel like I've covered all bases.

Did your DD2 need feeding while you were in hospital?

Can I feed the baby room temp colostrum?

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 20:44:20

We had a huge snuggly feed post bath (where the MW got all panicky about the 'blood' loss) and she fed for about an hour. The MW checked me after phoning delivery suite and I had contracted down to pre-preg size (uterus - I still looked 6m pg) but the DS had called a ambulance so we had to go (MW now felt she had jumped the gun a bit). We were in DS for about 8 hours and she did feed a couple of times in the hospital but they weren't great feeds compared to her first feed (no supplementation req. though).

Hopefully your birth will go as smoothly as mine did but with out the transfer in afterwards (25hour labour with 4 min pushing and I've had worse periods). I've told this before many times on MN but just for you - DH said 'That was easy - let's have another baby' and the MW said 'Can I get the placenta out first?' grin

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 20:48:53

Sorry -blethering on about HB and missed your last q. As far as I know you can feed it room temp - after all the ready to feed formula bottles are given at room temp in hospital. You could ask your MW what she thinks but def don't microwave it!!

Graciescotland Sun 02-Oct-11 20:50:57

Room temperature should be fine, DS was a bit sleepy for feeding so they encouraged me to hand express, popped colostrum in fridge and gave it to him cold.

Syringes, ask your midwife I got half a dozen from mines at first check at home.

GreenMonkies Sun 02-Oct-11 20:53:52

I found antenatal colstrum harvesting very difficult, despite nursing DD1 all the way through my pregnancy, and having pumped for months when back at work. I literally only got drops, so be warned it may not be easy. Sterile syringes you can probably get from your midwife if you explain why you want them. Give me a nod and -I'll get you some if you like.

FormbyDoula Sun 02-Oct-11 21:24:23

You should be able to get the syringes from your chemist too - I used to use them to give my prem baby vitamins (a 1ml syringe).

Would it be possible, if you do go in, for your DH to express colostrum from you while you were in surgery and give it straight to the baby? That would be much easier and you'd probably have lots more by then.

It seems like a faff to try to collect it beforehand, store it, freeze it, defreeze it etc when you might not even need it. Great forward thinking though!

KellyKettle Mon 03-Oct-11 08:22:06

Thanks so much everyone, this has been really helpful.

Greenmonkies that's interesting. DD is still feeding so I'd assumed there would be something to express but I haven't actually tried yet.

FormbyDoula (are you actually in Formby? I went to college in Southport!) I would like to think I could keep the baby with me in surgery but I'm not sure they'd even allow DH in.

Truthsweet that's a wonderful comment from your DH. Mine is in mild panic at the thought of a vaginal birth at the moment!

GreenMonkies Mon 03-Oct-11 08:37:20

KellyKettle, when my colostrum came in at about 30 weeks DD1 was delighted to be getting a "proper drink" again (her words!) so clearly it was there, and in abundance, I just couldn't get much out, even though she could.

KellyKettle Mon 03-Oct-11 09:30:53

My DD has been quite excited at the return of the milk. She told me last night that the baby can't have mummy milk, it's having bottles and sleeping in it's own

TruthSweet Mon 03-Oct-11 10:38:34

KellyKettle - DH hated our first birth (4 day induction from hell) so a HB with our lovely doula was a piece of cake. All he had to do was rub my back (was shown how to do counter pressure IIRC by doula on the day) and listen to me rant in transistion. I think he felt it was a breeze - he even told the DS that if they didn't send out a MW he was prepared to deliver DD2 himself - on their head be it. We got a MW funnily enough after that hmm Total difference from DD1's birth.

Even DD3's birth which was a pre-birth transfer due to mec. went so much better because DH felt so much more confident and that helped me feel supported. Plus we had the same doula as before, a CMW that I knew who had come to attend the HB and the on-call SOM was the lead MW when I delivered at the hospital. I still zoned out and faced the wall and ignored all bar DH & my doula grin

On the milk front mine dried up at week 14 with both DD2 & DD3's pg but came back between week 24 & 26 respectively. You could tell when the colostrum came in because the toddlers had vile nappies/potties like newborn poo with food in it <boak>

GreenMonkies Mon 03-Oct-11 10:39:25

Mine was the opposite, she allocated one boob for her, one for the baby, and made sure we were intending to co-sleep. She would often ask me to tandem nurse one of her toys whilst she was nursing.

KellyKettle Mon 03-Oct-11 11:25:30

We have had the colostrum nappies - fortunately someone warned me on another thread. They were shocking & also badly timed as we were at my MILs. Prompted lots of "but does she need the milk?" from MIL & claims that it was making her ill.

So you did go for dc3! I'm assuming you reached that decision post placenta grin

Yes, I had a long labour ending in 3rd degree tear with DD. So opted for HB this time. My consultant doesn't understand that it wasn't the tear that I found upsetting but how I was treated in hospital. Our MW is dropping of the 'birth box' this week which has given me butterflies. Its all getting a bit real.

Just browsing car seats online. I'm really not prepared for birth or baby this time!

TruthSweet Mon 03-Oct-11 11:32:48

Yes DD3 was born when DD1 was 3.7 (self weaned at 3.6) and DD2 was 22m so DH managed to restrain himself slightly longer than the 10mins it took to deliver the placenta grin Luckily for the MW. I think Dh found me very feminine/womanly at that moment and had a mouth/brain malfunction...

I really think you need a car seat for baby just in case you/baby need to transfer or indeed if your hospital make HB come in for the 2 day check. As well as being a bfing nut I'm also a car seat geek so ask away!

KellyKettle Mon 03-Oct-11 18:42:09


DH works for a pharmacy but in HO not in branch. He spoke to a pharmacist in his building today who said they can get hold of 1ml feeding syringes for tomorrow. How convenient! I don't even have to leave the house!

I'll let you know how the collection goes. I don't hold much hope for getting anything in them....

TruthSweet Mon 03-Oct-11 19:09:47

TBH newborns need very little in the way of fluids to start with (not saying you should deliberately not feed them if you can just that it's not the end of the world if they have a couple of syringes of colostrum and a clean finger to suck for an hour or so) so if you even only collect 1ml every couple of days over the next couple of weeks you should be fine for a few hours (totally hoping you won't need even one though).

You may find you get more the closer to baby arriving anyway/you getting more in the swing of hand expressing.

Nice that DH can hand deliver them - perhaps presented on a velvet cushion with on a bed of rose petals for that extra decadent touch wink

FormbyDoula Wed 05-Oct-11 14:20:00

Yes I am in Formby smile

Can you freeze the syringes with the colostrum in them? Not sure if you were thinking of doing that anyway but prob easier than putting it in a bag or bottle as there won't be much of it.

My DD had a syringe of colostrum when she was first born as she was struggling to latch - she had 1ml but I think even that was too much as she was sick. So I would say a serving would be 1ml max. It would only be to keep the baby going till you were finished in surgery so a couple of syringes would be fine.

I wouldn't even heat it up, just room temp would be fine. And taking it out of the freezer during labour would prob be fine too (you can't take it out any earlier can you! And if it is still frozen they could pop it into a pot of hot water).

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