Collecting Colostrum Before Birth



Expressing and storing colostrum before birth may decrease the risk of your baby requiring formula supplementation after birth. It may also assist in the promotion of successful, exclusive breastfeeding for you and your baby. You and your baby may benefit from prenatal colostrum collection if you:

• Have Type I, II, or gestational diabetes
• Have high blood pressure or have developed preeclampsia during pregnancy
• Are at risk for low milk production (if you have breast hypoplasia, PCOS, a history of breast surgery, or a history of low supply)
• Are giving birth to multiples
• Are planning to give birth by c-section
• Have a raised body mass index (BMI)
• Are expecting a baby with a congenital condition such as down syndrome or heart problems
• Are expecting a baby with a cleft lip and/or palate

It is recommended that you consult with your OB/midwife prior to expressing colostrum prenatally. Do not express if:

• You have a history of preterm labor.
• You have a history of cervical incompetence.
• You have experienced contractions, vaginal bleeding, or premature rupture of membranes this pregnancy

Equipment Needed:

• Hands
• Breast pump
• Breast milk storage container or 5ml syringe with cap


  1. Generally you may begin expressing colostrum after 36 weeks gestation with approval from your primary care provider team including your doctor (OB) and/or midwife.
  2. Begin with 3-5 minutes of expression on each breast, 2-3 times/day. You may use a breast pump or hand express. You may increase to expressing both breasts up to 3-5 times per day as long as it is approved by your healthcare provider.
  3. Collect milk in a small breast milk storage container or oral syringe from your OB’s or midwife’s office.
  4. When you arrive at the birth center or hospital, tell your nurse that you brought colostrum so they can store it for you in the freezer or refrigerator.
  5. Your colostrum should remain frozen until the baby’s birth. Colostrum can be brought to the birth center or hospital labeled with your name, the date and time it was expressed.
  6. Frozen colostrum can be stored for three months in the freezer or six to 12 months in the deep freezer.

Follow Up:

Remember prior to pumping while pregnant, please discuss with your OB for individual advice.


How to Hand Express by Dr. Jane Morton, Stanford School of Medicine

Prenatal Breastmilk Expression by Jenna Reinhart RN, IBCLC

Antenatal expression of colostrum (Mater Mothers Hospital)

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