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Collecting colostrum

 Judy Evans 1 Feb 2018

The benefits of breastfeeding are well known but there are many reasons why newborns might end up receiving formula first and often this is beyond a mother’s control.

Mother and newborn baby
In response to this, the UNICEF Breast Feeding Initiative has long been advising the importance of teaching women how to express breast milk and collect or ‘harvest’ colostrum.

Colostrum is a yellow, sticky liquid that is produced from 16 weeks of pregnancy before the milk comes in and is the optimum source of nutrition for a newborn. It is antibody-rich and filled with protein, vitamins and minerals, making it the perfect first feed to activate early protective immunological responses in the infant’s gut.

The maternity unit at Basildon University Hospital, where I practice clinically, started an antenatal colostrum harvesting service for diabetic women who, following birthing, need to have their baby’s blood glucose levels monitored as a possibility of hypoglycaemia could result in a delay for them to go home. It has been hugely successful and I was both amazed and impressed to see how committed the women have been to this. 

Antenatal teaching makes women more confident handling their breasts and removes some of the unfamiliarity upon first attempting to breast feed. To empower women this way is another step forwards in promoting and encouraging the continuation of breastfeeding.

Page last updated - 05/09/2018