I remember with my daughter around 28 weeks I would wake up with wet spots on my shirt that felt sticky. I realized that my body was leaking colostrum. As a first-time mom, I was shocked that this was happening! What I now realize, is that some women leak colostrum late in their pregnancy.
What is colostrum?
What is so fascinating, is that our bodies start producing breastmilk around the 16-20 week of pregnancy! The first phase of breast milk is known as colostrum. If you have heard of the term “liquid gold” you will understand why when you see the color of colostrum. It is a very rich, gold color that is so nutrient dense. Compared to mature milk, colostrum is 3x richer in Vit A, and contains nutrients and immunity-boosting compounds to give your baby the best support the first few days of life. It is made up of components to help your new baby fight off infection, illness and disease. It is full of antibodies, white blood cells, and other immune properties, and also is a natural laxative! It helps your new baby move their bowels and get rid of meconium-the thick, tar like poop.
First remember, you do not have to collect your colostrum if you are leaking. And if you aren’t leaking DON’T STRESS! Leaking colostrum does not indicate how much supply you will have postpartum. But, if you happen to be leaking colostrum and you got the OK from your medical provider you can start collecting colostrum around 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. Again, you need the OK from your medical provider because it can cause uterine contraction due to the release of oxytocin
Why would I want to collect my colostrum?
First of all, free milk! Who doesn’t love that?
Diabetes in pregnancy (pre-existing or gestational)- having stored colostrum is a great way to help balance your baby’s blood sugar post birth
History of low milk supply- if this is something you have struggled with in the past, this is a great way to help stock up on milk before baby is born!
Elective or unplanned cesarean sections- blood loss and surgery itself can inhibit milk production for the first few days postpartum
Difficult latch- some babies struggle with latch in the beginning which can make your nipples sore. Having some milk stored up is a great way to give your nipples a little break from breastfeeding
How to collect my colostrum
Before you start, wash your hands and apply a warm compress to your breast. You can also take a warm shower
While in a comfortable position, gently massage your breast, stroking down towards the nipple
Put your hand in a C shape position with your thumb above the nipple and the first few fingers below. Then, start to hand express into a medicine cup
Use a sterile syringe to draw up the colostrum
Place a label on the syringe with the date of collection
Place in freezer in a Ziplock bag
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not use a breast pump to collect colostrum. Hand express only to help limit contractions.