In the 4 years between my births of Scarlett & Mylee (Mylee being 8 months old at the time of writing this) I have learnt oh so much about breastfeeding. Hindsight & reflection of my previous breastfeeding journeys has been such a powerful tool for myself to identify where I could improve & make changes to ensure this breastfeeding journey was my best yet :) Collecting colostrum prior to birth was something that I was determined I would do this time round! And wow was it powerful... here's my story-
I always knew colostrum was such an important first food for baby post birth but I really had no knowledge or experience when it came to antenatal expression of colostrum prior to birth. It was never discussed in my antenatal care for my other 2 girls over 4 years ago so I was none the wiser to the true power behind this liquid gold.
Since then I feel that more & more health care workers are recognising the importance of collecting colostrum & the pivotal role it can play if needed in those crucial first hours post birth. I jumped up and down (almost literally) when the midwife during one of my routine antenatal check ups asked whether I was keen to collect because YES! I was keen but more so- it showed that times were shifting and the importance of this practice was becoming more common place.
Full of antibodies, rich in protein, vitamins & minerals- colostrum literally is LIQUID GOLD at its finest!! Gold in colour- it's thick & creamy & oh so good for your bub.
I am so grateful for the colostrum I had collected prior to birth because to my surprise we ended up needing it. (we used all the syringes of that thick liquid gold I had collected during those first 2 days in hospital).
An hour post birth- Mylee's temperature dropped along with her blood sugar levels and I could see the nurse start to panic. "We need to supplement her NOW".
Discussions were being had about possibly needing to go to special care & myself signing consent to give formula when I piped up & explained "I have expressed colostrum & lots of it- it's in the freezer- ready to go!!". 'I will do whatever we need to do for bub but ideally I want to avoid formula" I told the nurse.
Mylee has been what I refer to as "my healing bub"... the bub that I avoid PND & the one that I exclusively breastfeed. The bub that I experience the breast crawl immediately after birth & get to lap up lots of immediate skin on skin. What a treasure to have achieved all these. I am so thankful I started eating my own lactation cookies daily at 36 weeks pregnant. That I asked questions at my routine check ups & went to the chemist to buy syringes in anticipation for storage of my liquid gold colostrum. That I attended a breastfeeding course at my local hospital (when asked why a third time mum would want or need to go... I simply knew I needed this refresher & that there is always more to learn). I am so pleased at 36 weeks pregnant, I sat down every night around the same time to hand express colostrum because it gave me so much confidence in my body and my breastfeeding before my journey had truly begun. Those 5ml syringes of liquid gold stabilised my brand new bub's blood sugars & we were able to avoid special care nursery. They provided a break for my tired body in the wee hours of the night when I had been cluster feeding for hours on end.
In my opinion, antenatal expression of colostrum should be routine practice for any Mama planning to breastfeed. It can instill so much confidence before your journey has even begun & it gives you the option if your bub post birth requires immediate supplementing.
Please always check that your pregnancy is safe to do so before you ever start hand expressing and that your obstetrician or midwife gives you the OK.
Click here to watch the video POWERFUL COLOSTRUM- PART 2 how I actually collected & stored it antenatally.