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Colostrum.... what on earth is it?

A pregnant body will start producing this amazing stuff from 16 weeks of pregnancy, and you'll find it in your breasts! It is made up of 90 different components (and 1000s of different proteins/sugars/live cells/enzymes!) with the main groups being: Immuno-regulating substances, gut protective substances, growth factors and metabolic factors.

Colostrum has high concentrations of nutrients and antibodies, but it is small in quantity. It is high in carbohydrates, protein, antibodies, and low in fat (as human newborns may find fat difficult to digest). Newborns have very small digestive systems, and colostrum delivers its nutrients in a very concentrated low-volume form. It also has a mild laxative effect, encouraging the passing of the baby's first poo; meconium. This helps to clear out extra old red blood cells and reduce the chance of jaundice.

In pregnancy it is advised to try something called “colostrum harvesting” or “hand expressing” to stimulate the production of colostrum from 36 weeks of pregnancy. There are a couple of reasons this may be beneficial:

🍯it increases oxytocin and can encourage your body to go into labour

🍯it stimulates an increased production of colostrum, this can encourage your milk to come in sooner after your baby has been born

🍯it reassures you that you have food for your baby when they arrive

🍯it can be stored in the fridge or freezer and fed to your baby once they are born if they do not latch or you have to be separated temporarily for medical reasons

🍯it makes you more familiar with your breasts and can mimic the feeling of latching your baby for the first time

It is particularly beneficial for women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or any other women who’s baby will be offered blood sugar testing after birth.

It is becoming more and more common practice for every mum-to-be to be informed of this and taught how to do it, however if you do not plan to breastfeed or this is not for you then that is absolutely fine too.

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