If you are planning to breastfeed your baby or give your baby expressed breast milk you can start trying to hand express before your baby arrives, any time after 36 weeks. Antenatal hand expressing is advisable for all women planning to breast feed but is especially useful if you have gestational diabetes or know that your baby is likely to be born early or require special care at birth.
If you are able to express colostrum (early milk) you can store it and give it to your baby when they are born. Some babies are quite sleepy for the first day after birth and if you know how to hand express, and have practiced the technique, you will be able to hand express colostrum directly onto baby’s lips on the first day until your baby wakes up and is ready to feed. Ask your community midwife for some syringes to store your expressed breast milk or use a sterilised container. Remember you will only be collecting very small volumes of colostrum.
Storing expressed breast milk
Ask your community midwife for some syringes to store your expressed breast milk or use a sterilised container. Remember you will only be collecting very small volumes of colostrum.
You can store breast milk in a sterilised container:
- in the fridge for up to five days at 4C or lower
- for two weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge
- for up to six months in a freezer
Defrosting frozen breast milk:
If you have frozen your milk, defrost it in the fridge before giving it to your baby. Once it’s defrosted, use it straight away. Milk that’s been frozen is still good for your baby and better than formula milk. Don’t re-freeze milk once it’s thawed.