9 Tips for Collecting Colostrum

An account by a mummy. She would like to share her experience on collecting of colostrum so that mummies would not make the same mistake as her. A kind hearted mummy indeed! ( Permission granted from her to share this but she would rather remain anonymous) 🙂

This is what roughly 100ml of colostrum looks like. 🙂  

When pregnant, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and was told by Gyne and midwife (at 35 weeks) that there was a high chance for baby to be born with low blood sugar. I was told that I may want to hand express colostrum into syringes so as to feed baby as a top-up should sugar levels be too low.

In the beginning (I started collecting from 36 weeks pregnancy), even getting out 0.5ml would take me 1-1.5hours, would literally collect drop by drop. Over the course of the next few weeks, I was able to slowly increase the amount and express 3-4 ml at a time; and was told to do 3 sessions a day. That’s how I built the stash as shown in the pic. 

Although i asked many questions, gynae and midwife werent really able to say how much colostrum i’d actually need for top-up as they said its dependent on baby’s birth weight and severity of low blood sugar. They also didnt provide specifics on how the collection should be done. So i took about 75% of my stash to the hospital on the day of my induction and kept it in the room bar-fridge’s freezer. (Even after handexpressing so much, i had no signs of labour or pain and gyne said baby was too big so cant wait past 40 weeks, hence induced).

Keeping it in the room fridge was a HUGE mistake. The nurses said it would be okay but by the time baby was born (emergency c-sec, head got stuck when pushing; thankfully his sugar was normal), all the colostrum had thawed within the freezer. 😦

Ive lost count as to how long i spent collecting and expressing the colostrum and it was definitely painful to see all that colostrum defrost and become unusable (we had no idea how long it had been thawed and we were away for more than 24 hours. Also, i didnt know i needed to use a cap on my syringes and the ward nurse said she didnt find it suitable to feed since it was uncapped.
I hope this experience will be helpful to any expecting mums. Here’s my advice:

Tip 1: 
You can check with ur gynae if handexpressing colostrum is suitable for your situation after 36 weeks. Really depends on the individual’s nipple sensitivity and also if there is a need to do so. 

Tip 2:
You could start with 1ml syringes and slowly work up to 3ml as supply increases. This may take 1-2 weeks in my experience. Syringes are available at Guardian. 

Tip 3:
Please buy syringe caps! Apparently can ask the Guardian pharmacist for them.

Tip 4:
Remember to label each syringe with date and time, as feeding would be done with the earliest expressed first

Tip 5:
If i couldnt fill a syringe, i didnt continue to fill the same syringe at the next session. I started again with a new syringe. Im not sure about reusing same syringe.

Tip 6:
I would keep massaging and hand expressing with one hand and use the other to hold the syringe and extract the drops. If you had a syringe cap, i think can directly collect into the syringe without leakage or needing to deal with the piston. Immediately after collecting, use the piston to “seal” the syringe, label/date it and pop it into the freezer

Tip 7:
The nursery at your hospital would have a proper freezer. The moment you are taken to the ward upon arrival for delivery, pass it to the ward nurse and ask for them to keep it in their freezer. Once baby is born and blood sugar measured, you can retrieve the frozen syringes. Just remember to let the ward nurses and midwives at the delivery suite know that you have colostrum on hand and dont want to use FM as top-up.

Tip 8:
Even if the baby doesnt have low blood sugar, this would have been ideal for the ultra-painful initial latch period. After trying normal labour then going for c-sec, everything hurt haha my child’s vaccum suction was something i hadnt expected at all. I got zero sleep in the hospital cause the moment he finished a feed i sat up trying to calm and soothe my nipples before the next feed. Having the option to syringe feed him my colostrum would have been nice.

Tip 9: 
If you take antibiotics for bacterial/fungal infection need to wait 48hours before expressing. The meds does seep into the colostrum (lol ya i tasted and saw the difference). Possibly the same with other meds too, so please check with gynae on how long to pump and dump if needed.

So… i decided to give my boy a colostrum bath. No idea if it would have any benefit as its been 3 months and thawed before, but no heart to just dump it too. Took too much effort and love. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

***

Thank you mummy for sharing. We hope more mummies will learn from the sharing. And congrats on the newborn baby! 🙂

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