Frozen expressed colostrum: A guide for new mums

Congratulations on becoming a new mum! If you’ve taken the proactive step of freezing your hand-expressed colostrum during pregnancy, you’re off to a great start on your motherhood journey. Now that you have this valuable resource of frozen expressed colostrum, you might be wondering how to maximise its benefits. This frozen colostrum is a reservoir of essential nutrients and antibodies perfectly suited for your newborn’s immune system.

If you’re still pregnant and wondering if you need to express colostrum, read our article called Expressing colostrum before your baby arrives, to learn about the potential reasons you might be required to do so.

Those little syringes of nutrient-rich elixir packed with antibodies and essential nutrients are going to provide your newborn with a strong start. In this guide for new mums, we’ll answer all of your questions and walk you through the process of using the frozen colostrum you’ve stored, ensuring your baby gets the best nourishment during those early days.

Frozen expressed colostrum: A guide for new mums

Understanding colostrum

Colostrum, often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, is the first milk your body produces during pregnancy and after giving birth. It’s a powerhouse of immune-boosting properties and essential nutrients that your baby needs during the initial days of life.

Benefits of colostrum

  • Colostrum is rich in antibodies, providing your baby with essential protection against infections and diseases.
  • The easy-to-digest properties of colostrum are perfect for your baby’s delicate tummy during the initial days.
  • Feeding your baby colostrum nurtures the emotional bond between you and your newborn.

Thawing and heating frozen colostrum

  1. As your due date approaches, start planning to use your frozen colostrum. Keep in mind that thawed colostrum should be used within 24 hours.
  2. Transfer the frozen colostrum from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw slowly. This can take several hours or even overnight. Once defrosted, it cannot be re-frozen.
  3. When you’re ready to use the colostrum, warm it gently by placing the container in a bowl of warm water (not boiling), or place it under warm running water for a few minutes, or keep it close to your body, such as in your top or bra until it reaches body temperature. Avoid using the microwave, as it can destroy valuable nutrients.

How to use thawed colostrum

If you’re breastfeeding directly, consider offering the thawed colostrum via a spoon, dropper, or even a small cup during the early days. This can provide a soothing and nourishing experience for your baby.

If you’re bottle-feeding, you can still make use of your thawed colostrum by transferring it to a sterilised bottle. Ensure the milk is at an appropriate temperature before feeding (as above).

Storage tips

  1. Always label containers with the date of expression. Use the oldest colostrum first to maintain freshness.
  2. Maintain proper hygiene by washing your hands and using sterilised containers for expressing, storing, and feeding.
  3. Colostrum should be stored in small quantities, as your baby’s initial feeds are quite small.

Seeking professional guidance

Every baby is unique, and some may have specific feeding needs. If you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding or health, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional, a lactation consultant, or phone the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline.

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