Antenatal Hand Expressing Guide

Harvesting Liquid Gold for Your Baby's Health

Antenatal hand expressing, colloquially known as colostrum harvesting, is a practice gaining traction among expecting mothers for its numerous benefits to both mother and baby. This technique involves collecting colostrum—the thick, yellowish milk produced in the late stages of pregnancy—before the baby's birth.

Why Consider Antenatal Hand Expressing?

Antenatal expressing offers a range of benefits, particularly for certain groups of mothers and babies:

  1. Diabetic Mothers: Babies born to diabetic mothers may benefit from antenatal expressing as it helps manage their blood sugar levels more effectively.
  2. Low Breast Milk Supply: Mothers with a history of low milk supply or those at risk of it can use antenatal hand expressing to ensure their baby receives enough colostrum in the crucial early days.
  3. Boosting Colostrum Intake: For all mothers, antenatal expressing provides an opportunity to collect and store extra colostrum, ensuring a readily available supply until their milk production fully ramps up.

Understanding Colostrum

Colostrum is a powerhouse of nutrition for newborns. It's packed with essential nutrients and antibodies crucial for the baby's early immune system development. By harvesting colostrum before birth, mothers can provide their babies with an extra boost of these vital components.

When to Start Antenatal Expressing

It's generally recommended to start antenatal expressing around 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. However, this timeline may vary depending on individual circumstances. Starting too early could potentially stimulate early labor, so it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning.

The Antenatal Expressing Technique

Follow these simple steps to effectively hand express colostrum:

  1. Preparation: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to ensure cleanliness.
  2. Massage: Gently massage your breasts using a circular motion, starting from the top and outer areas, and working toward the nipple. This helps stimulate milk flow.
  3. Hand Positioning: Form a C shape with your thumb and forefinger and place it about 2-3 cm behind the nipple.
  4. Expressing: Press your fingers back towards your chest and then compress them together gently but firmly, avoiding pinching the nipple. Hold the pressure for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this rhythmically, varying the position around the areola to empty different milk ducts.
  5. Collection: Use a MOB colostrum collector to collect the expressed colostrum, ensuring not to spill any precious liquid gold.
  6. Storage: Store the collected colostrum in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours or in the freezer for up to 3 months, ensuring it's properly sealed and labeled.
  7. Transport: When the time comes, pack the stored colostrum collectors in a MOB Cooler Bag with ice packs to keep them fresh and safe for transport to the hospital.


Antenatal hand expressing is a valuable tool for expecting mothers, offering benefits that extend beyond the immediate postpartum period. By incorporating this practice into your prenatal routine, you can ensure a smooth transition for both you and your baby into the world of breastfeeding. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalised guidance and support throughout your breastfeeding journey.

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