The Helping Hands clinic at North Shore Private Hospital supports parents following discharge with lactation advice as well as education on sleeping and settling. Many women also access our clinic at approx. 35-36 weeks gestation to gain support on antenatal expressing in preparation for the birth of their baby.
Why express colostrum antenatally?
By providing an expectant mother appropriate education and support on the benefits of antenatal expressing of colostrum increases better outcomes with breastfeeding and milk production. Hand expressing colostrum can commence from 35-36 weeks. Stored and frozen colostrum can be given in the early postnatal period. In this way, if the baby requires extra fluids/nutrition, he/she can be given colostrum rather than the use of formula and exclusive breastfeeding can be achieved.
A study at the La Trobe University Melbourne called the D.A.M.E. study (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing) was conducted and published in 2016. It looked at the safety of expressing in the antenatal period for type 1 Diabetic mums and the effect on themselves and their pregnancy.
The study results showed that women with diabetes and a low-risk pregnancy could safely express breastmilk in late pregnancy without causing harm to their pregnancy or their baby. Since the study has been conducted it has also included, mums with:
- History of low supply from previous pregnancies. Antenatal expressing can stimulate the breast milk to come in quicker.
- A mother of a baby that has been diagnosed with a cleft lip and/or palate during pregnancy may help the mums produce more milk sooner post-partum.
- Congenital conditions, such as Down?s Syndrome or a Cardiac condition.
- Diagnosed Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
- Pregnancy Induced Hypertension.
- Women with Breast Hypoplasia (limited breast development) or previous breast surgery.
Discuss with your Obstetrician first if you feel you could benefit from expressing antenatally!
The Antenatal Consultation at Helping Hands includes:
- Reasons to express antenatal
- When it?s best to express
- How to express
Items provided for Antenatal expressing:
- A bag of 2-3 different size syringes
- Colostrum collecting pots
- Labels with the mother?s unique Medical record on it to attach to each individual syringe
- A handout on how to express
We encourage our mums to express twice a day for approx 5 to 10 minutes.
Common concerns regarding expressing colostrum antenatally
May cause mother to go into labour:
Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for uterine contractions during labour. It is also the hormone that triggers milk to be released from a mother?s breast when breastfeeding or expressing. For these reasons there has been a concern that antenatal expression of colostrum may potentially induce labour. In most healthy pregnancies, a mother will only go into labour when her body is ready to do so. Only small amounts of Oxytoxin are released when expressing antenatally
Below may be some reasons why you would not express antenatally:
- Threatened premature
- History of cervical incompetence
- A suture in your cervix to help prevent preterm labour
- Multiple pregnancy (twins or more)
- Experience painful contractions while expressing.
- Vaginal bleeding
How to hand express
Big deep breath & relax.
1. Massage your breast before expressing
2. Hold breast with hand cupping the breast thumb upper most ? behind the areola
3. Compress breast with pressure towards the chest. Some milk may appear after several compressions.
For more information visit North Shore Private Hospital