What is expressing antenatally
Antenatal expressing of colostrum is the hand expression of colostrum prior to the birth of your baby. Expressed colostrum is collected and frozen and used in situations where a baby may require it, for example if the mother had diabetes during pregnancy the baby could be born with low blood sugar and giving stored colostrum can help stabilise the baby’s blood sugars. It can also be used if you are separated from your baby following birth for treatment or if the baby is unwell. It could also be used to supplement the baby’s feeds if your baby is unable to attach effectively at the breast which could in turn, assist in the establishment of successful breastfeeding.
What are the benefits of expressing antenatally
Hand expressing antenatally under normal circumstances an ideal, low risk opportunity to develop physical knowledge regarding breastfeeding techniques in anticipation of having a newborn. Expressing can assist in the promotion of successful, exclusive breastfeeding for you and your baby.
What are the benefits of colostrum
The benefits of giving your newborn baby colostrum is well documented and will provide your baby with its first wholesome and extremely beneficial feed. Colostrum contains vital nutrients, healthy bacteria and high levels of antibodies to help your baby build a strong immune system. Colostrum also keeps your baby hydrated, is important for its digestive tract and encourages the early passage of meconium which assists in preventing jaundice.
Is it safe to express antenatally
Expressing prior to the birth of your baby under normal circumstances is safe, however we always recommend you discuss this with your health care provider/s first. If you have had this discussion, it is likely you will be told to begin no earlier than 36 weeks.
When is hand expression in NOT recommended
Antenatal expression of colostrum is NOT usually recommended before 36 weeks gestation and NOT recommended if you have a:
- History or are currently having problems with threatened or actual premature labour
- Cervical incompetence
- Suture in your cervix to help prevent preterm labour
Not planning on breastfeeding but would like to collect colostrum to give to your baby before formula is introduced?
The benefits of giving your newborn baby colostrum is well documented and will provide them with their first nourishing feeds. It is easily digested and encourages the early passage of meconium which assists in preventing jaundice. It will help boost your baby’s immunity and line their immature gastrointestinal tract. Beginning with expressed colostrum, even if you do not intend to breastfeed, will provide your baby with the ideal first feeds and complete nutrition and hydration for your baby.
State Government Victoria - Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2014), ‘Promoting Breastfeeding: Victorian Breastfeeding Guidelines’
Mitra S, Rennie J. Neonatal jaundice: aetiology, diagnosis and treatment. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 20172;78(12):699-704.
Pribylova J et al. Colostrum of healthy mothers contains broad spectrum of secretory IgA autoantibodies. J Clin Immunol. 2012;32(6):1372-1380.