Liquid Gold: Pumped Colostrum and How to Store It

The birth of a baby is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming for new mothers. You’re faced with incredible physical and emotional demands, and the new chapter is only beginning. You’re now ready to take your first step along your breastfeeding journey.

It’s common for new mothers to struggle with nursing. In fact, 92% of new mothers struggle with breastfeeding in the first three days post-partum. Breastfeeding isn’t always successful on the first try. Babies often have difficulty latching on, and sometimes a mother’s milk supply isn’t abundant. Luckily, pumping is an effective way to express milk for the baby and helps produce and maintain milk supply for mom.

The earliest supply of milk – colostrum – has some of the most important nutrients mothers can supply their newborns. Colostrum is essential to babies in the first few days after birth. To set yourself up for success, it’s helpful to know what to do with pumped colostrum and how to store it.

Why is Colostrum Important?

Until full milk production begins two to three days after birth, new moms produce small amounts of colostrum. Also called “liquid gold,” this thick, yellowish milk is rich in nutrients and carbohydrates. In addition to providing essential nutrition to the baby, colostrum helps with digestion and bowel movements in newborns. This is important in ridding the baby’s body of toxins that can cause jaundice.

Colostrum is also high in white blood cells and antibodies that develop the baby’s immune system. It builds a protective coating in their digestive system that helps prevent the growth of disease-causing germs. It’s a baby super-food and is an invaluable asset to their health and well-being.

What to Do with Pumped Colostrum

A baby only consumes small amounts of colostrum in its first days. Regardless, studies show that expressing these low quantities within the first hour of birth can prevent delays in milk production. If a newborn doesn’t nurse within six hours after birth, it’s a good idea for mom to begin pumping. Make sure your hands are clean and that any collection tools are sterilized for the baby’s safety. Once you’re ready to pump colostrum, you’ll want to follow these next steps.

1. Collect It in a Container

Many new moms prefer to use a syringe or Hegen’s revolutionary press-to-close, twist-to-open airtight storage bottles to collect colostrum. As you pump the breast, you’ll notice beads of liquid forming. Gather this in one of the containers and, once complete, put the syringe in a sealable baggie or close the bottle tightly. Then, write the date on the container so you can keep track of your stored supply.

2. Feed It to Your Baby 

Once you’ve collected colostrum, it’s ready for consumption. You can administer it via a syringe or small bottle (remember, quantities will be relatively low). You can also feed drops of it to your baby on a clean finger. Every bit is packed with nutrients to help your baby’s development. 

3. Store It for Future Use

If your colostrum production is going well and you’re building up a steady supply, you can store it for future use. In fact, some women begin collecting their colostrum before the baby actually arrives. In a typical healthy pregnancy, there’s no need to express colostrum before giving birth. However, in some instances, it’s beneficial to collect colostrum toward the end of the pregnancy. Harvesting colostrum this early may be recommended if:

  • You’re having twins – birth weight tends to be low for multiples. 
  • You have health concernsgestational diabetes can affect the baby’s glucose levels at birth.
  • Your baby has a cleft lip or palatethis can make breastfeeding difficult.

Whatever the case, pumped colostrum can be collected and saved for when the time is right.

4. Bring It to the Hospital 

If you do decide to pump and store your colostrum before giving birth, be sure to include this in your hospital bag list to take along with you when you head to the hospital for delivery. Carry it in an insulated bag with ice packs and ask the nurse to store it in the maternity ward’s refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. This colostrum will be safe for use for up to 48 hours.

4 Tips for Storing Colostrum

Breastfeeding mothers can ensure the safety and quality of expressed breast milk by following proper storing techniques. Consider these four tips for storing colostrum safely.

Properly Seal the Container

To maintain freshness and quality, be sure your storage container is completely sealed. Never use disposable bags or liners to store pumped colostrum. These aren’t designed to protect against bacteria and germ growth. 

Consider Shelf Life

Colostrum can be stored at room temperature for up to four hours. It can remain in a refrigerator for up to four days. You can store pumped colostrum in the freezer for up to six months (for best quality) or 12 months, at most. If you’re uncertain about how long your colostrum has been stored, it’s best to dispose of it. Better safe than sorry!  

Placement Matters

When storing expressed colostrum in the refrigerator or freezer, set the container at the back of the shelf where temperatures are coolest. Avoid storing it in the door compartment, as opening and closing the fridge will expose stored colostrum to frequent temperature changes that can negatively impact its quality and freshness.

Store It On-the-Go

With careful planning, it’s possible to travel safely with stored colostrum. Pack the container in an insulated bag and surround the colostrum with ice packs. It can remain safe for consumption this way for up to 24 hours. When your journey is over, use it right away or store it in the fridge or freezer.

Hegen Helps New Moms Pump and Store Their Colostrum

Today’s women are juggling their passions, careers, and responsibilities with the full-time job of motherhood. While it’s a wonderful adventure, being a mom brings numerous challenges. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be one of them. At Hegen, we want to make breastfeeding easier, rewarding, and empowering. From state-of-the-art breastmilk storage supplies to educational resources, we cover all the bases for you as you transition to your new role. 

Shop our Amazon store today for effective feeding products, helpful tips, and shared stories from moms like you. 

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