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What is colostrum?


Colostrum is the first breastmilk that your body produces. Mothers start to produce it whilst pregnant. It is usually a clear or yellow colour but varies from woman to woman. Your baby only needs small quantities, and it contains everything your baby needs for the first few days. It is high in calories and contains proteins and fats and will help stabilize your baby’s blood glucose levels. It has immune boosting properties and contains antibodies that will protect your baby from infection.


So, what is Colostrum Harvesting? – Hand expressing breastmilk is a useful skill to have. From 37 weeks of pregnancy, you can start to collect your Colostrum in syringes, ready to give to your baby. It can be beneficial for several reasons -

  • it gets your milk production off to the best start!

  • it’s a great back up for breastfeeding – if your baby is not ready to breastfeed initially, your colostrum can be stored frozen and defrosted for baby if needed. Having this back up is great if your baby needs extra milk as may happen if you have diabetes or if your baby is in the neonatal unit

  • its easily digested – Breastmilk is a complete and perfect milk for your baby. If your baby has difficulties or health problems your colostrum is easier to digest and tolerated better than formula milk

  • being familiar with your breasts and how they work will give you confidence after the birth. You’ll be able to hand express if your baby needs it. Hand expressing will also help you avoid problems with engorgement and mastitis

  • Colostrum Harvesting can also help in special circumstances such as a planned caesarean section, if you have diabetes or if you or your baby have a health condition that means you need extra care.

* Things to be aware of… Expressing milk releases the hormone oxytocin which can cause uterine tightening’s. You should not express colostrum before 37 weeks of pregnancy, if you have been told you have a low lying placenta (Placenta Praevia) or a cervical suture in place. Always check with your Midwife first.

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