Can colostrum harvesting bring on labour?
As colostrum harvesting produces oxytocin, which is the hormone that produces contractions in labour, in theory, it could be thought to induce the onset of labour. However, it is generally not thought that colostrum harvesting alone would start labour, as having sex and breastfeeding another child during pregnancy also release oxytocin into the body and are considered safe throughout pregnancy, if all is progressing normally. The reason for this is probably because labour also needs a fine balance of other hormones and triggers in place, rather than just oxytocin, for it to start naturally.
How long does colostrum last?
Colostrum that is frozen immediately after collection will last for:
- Up to 6 months if kept in a freezer -18°C or under
- Up to 8 days if kept in a fridge 4°C or under
- Up to 24 hours if kept in a cool bag with ice packs (when transporting to hospital)
Use freezable labels, like those included in the Colostrum Harvesting Kit, to date when the colostrum was frozen and make sure your colostrum is safe to feed your baby.
Can I increase the amount of colostrum I produce?
Learning how to harvest colostrum will be a process you become more proficient at the more it is practised. Your breasts will also start to make more colostrum the more they are stimulated and it is harvested. So, in theory, the more colostrum harvesting is practised the more colostrum is made and should be available to collect if it is practised regularly. Women should not think they cannot breastfeed if they try to harvest colostrum and are unable to, it can be a different experience for everyone.
Can I store/freeze my colostrum in other containers?
It is easier to store and defrost small amounts of colostrum in syringes, but you can store or freeze your colostrum in any suitable sterilised container, especially if you are collecting larger quantities.
How long can I use one syringe for?
If you are collecting small amounts of colostrum, you can use the same syringe for 24 hours before freezing, as long as you store it in the fridge in between collecting.
Will my NHS midwife provide me with all the information I need on colostrum harvesting?
Your NHS midwife may have time to discuss some aspects of colostrum harvesting and be able to signpost you to resources but will not have the time to explore this subject in detail. This is due to the length of allocated appointments and the amount of other information they need to discuss with you.