How to hand express colostrum
To hand express colostrum you need to:
- Wash your hands thoroughly first.
- Apply a warm heat pack or flannel to the breast – this will help to stimulate milk flow.
- Gently massage the breast, starting from the top of the breast moving towards the nipple – this will help to stimulate the letdown reflex.
- Use your thumb and fingers above and below the areola.
- Compress the nipple and release to mimic the rhythm of a baby sucking.
- Continue to repeat this and the yellowish drops of colostrum will appear from the breast.
- Hold the collection cup under the nipple to catch the dripping colostrum.
- Express for no more than 5 minutes and then swap breasts.
- Repeat so that each breast is expressed twice.
You should stop expressing immediately if you are having contractions at any time.
How to store expressed colostrum
- Ideally freshly expressed colostrum should be drawn up into the syringes immediately.
- Don't completely fill the syringes, leave a little bit of room at the top to allow for the colostrum to expand while freezing.
- Label the syringe with the waterproof sticker detailing the date and time of the first expression collected and your name to ensure correct identification.
- Place the syringe/s into the zip-lock bag before putting into the freezer.
- Ideally frozen colostrum should be used within three months of freezing but it is acceptable to keep frozen for up to 12 months in a deep freezer (-20 °C).
- Once thawed, it should be used within 24 hours.
How to warm expressed colostrum
- Frozen colostrum should defrost in a refrigerator or in lukewarm water
- Fill your silicone warming cup with warm water (max 40 °C), then add your filled syringe
- It should only need a few minutes to bring it to body temperature
- Thawed breast milk left at room temperature should be fed to your baby immediately and discarded within one-two hours.
- Always check the temperature prior to giving the colostrum to your baby, you do not want it to be hot, you are aiming for body temperature.
Transporting to hospital?
On average, a newborn baby will consume about a teaspoon (4.9ml) of colostrum per feed in the first 24 hours, so we suggest initially you only take 2–3 syringes to hospital.
When you’re headed off to the hospital to have your baby, put fresh or frozen syringes in your Milkco freezer storage bag and then in your Milkco cooler bag, add in a frozen ice brick to keep the colostrum cold. Once you arrive at the hospital, ask for the syringes to be placed in a fridge. Once the colostrum defrosts it must be used within four hours and it cannot be refrozen.
These instructions apply to full term healthy babies. If your baby is premature or unwell please follow the advice given by the hospital and health professionals.