Colostrum is the first form of breast milk that your body will produce when you're having a baby. It is very concentrated, rich in vitamins, antibodies and nutrients.
From around week 16 of pregnancy, you’ll produce colostrum. You can then try to hand express colostrum from 37 weeks. The gap here is because there’s some limited evidence that expressing colostrum can bring on labour, so it’s not a good idea to try it before this point. In fact, always check with your midwife if it’s safe to try colostrum harvesting, particularly if your pregnancy is high risk.
Expressing colostrum (or harvesting colostrum) before you give birth can be a great way to get familiar with the crazy new world of breastfeeding in a gradual way. If you have a more traumatic birth than you were planning, it can also be great to have some colostrum on hand already to offer your baby.
Colostrum harvesting can also come with its own stresses. Namely… WHERE IS ALL THE MILK?!? 🧐 Yep. When it comes to colostrum, many women worry they’re not producing enough, but this is completely normal - we’re literally talking drops here, people! You can collect these drops with a syringe, and feel like a right scientist.
A little goes a long way here. Your baby will only need about a teaspoon per feed. That’s very little! And remember, if you find you can’t express during pregnancy, don’t worry. This is no indication that you won’t produce enough colostrum once your baby is born. As always, stay calm.