Antenatal Expressing – Why Do It & What Are The Benefits?
27-08-2019 | Posted in General News
What is Antenatal Expressing?
Antenatal expressing involves expressing colostrum in the final few weeks of pregnancy. It can also be referred to as ‘colostrum harvesting’ and is advocated by some NHS Trusts.
Mothers are normally advised to wait until around 37 weeks before starting antenatal expression. Mums who are having multiple births may sometimes start sooner as giving birth earlier is more likely.
Benefits of Antenatal Expressing?
For some mothers, it can be a useful tool that helps ensure their baby will start life without the need for formula supplementation. The importance of exclusive breastfeeding for all babies has been well-established by scientific research.
Colostrum contains vital immunological properties and helps to colonise the baby’s gut with healthy bacteria that protect against allergy and disease.
It also contains the perfect balance of proteins, fats and micronutrients needed for human babies as well as acting as a laxative to help the passing of their first meconium stools. Some babies may experience difficulties with feeding or maintaining their blood sugar levels during the first few days after birth and therefore may require supplementary feeds, colostrum harvesting can help to ensure babies are given their mothers own milk instead of being topped up with formula.
These include babies:
- Whose mother has gestational diabetes in pregnancy or who has a history of diabetes.
- Is large or small for their gestational age
- Is a twin or triplet
- Has a cleft lip or palate
- Has Down’s syndrome or a heart complication
Colostrum harvesting can also be beneficial for your baby if you:
- Are taking beta blockers to control high blood pressure
- Have developed pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome
- Have breast hypoplasia (a condition in which the breast doesn’t fully develop) or you have had breast surgery
- Have a raised body mass index (BMI)
- Plan to give birth by Caesarean section
How to Start Colostrum Harvesting
If you would like to harvest your colostrum, you can start hand expressing for a few minutes once a day when you are 36 to 37 weeks pregnant. Gradually up to gently expressing for about five to ten minutes at a time, two to five times a day, and then as often as necessary in the first few days after you give birth. If your baby is premature or unwell, you will be encouraged to start expressing within two to three hours of giving birth.
The NHS have more information on how to hand express colostrum.
Sterifeed supply colostrum collection products to hospitals throughout the UK which are also available to mums at home through our webshop or more advice or information please feel free to Contact Us.