Kellie Eason Nurse, Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Kellie is a Nurse, Midwife & IBCLC in private practice with over 25 years experience. She has a special interest in providing personalised support for families with complex infant feeding issues. Kellie works collaboratively with holistic practitioners in Preston, Melbourne 3072
WHAT IS IT? Prenatal expressing involves hand expressing of breastmilk during pregnancy & storing this breastmilk via freezing or later use after baby is born..
Women produce breastmilk from the 4th month of pregnancy - some women leak breastmilk, some don't at all.
THE EVIDENCE Between 2011-2015, 635 Victorian women with diabetes in pregnancy who were at low risk of other complications were studied to assess the safety and efficacy of expressing breastmilk prenatally.
Infants born to mothers with diabetes are at increased risk of having low blood sugar levels after birth. This is associated with serious health problems in newborns, most are likely to need infant formula because of this.
It is known that mother's breastmilk is more effective than infant formula, at regulating blood sugar levels. Breastmilk expressed prenatally and during the first 3-5 days after birth, is known to be smaller in volume, but highest in calories & immune factors.
50% of study participants expressed breastmilk twice daily from 36 weeks gestation to birth. On average, women expressed breastmilk on 20 occasions prior to giving birth, expressing on average 5mls of breastmilk in total.
The results of this study were published in The Lancet and demonstrated that not only is expressing breast milk before birth safe, but it increased the proportion of mothers who exclusively breast milk fed their baby within the first 24 hours of birth and up to seven days after birth.
IS PRENATAL BREASTMILK EXPRESSING SAFE? This study has provided clinical evidence that demonstrates, in low risk mums, prenatal breast milk expressing is safe, does not place them at risk of pre term labour or cause harm to their babies. You don't need to have diabetes in pregnancy to benefit from prenatal breastmilk expressing. To ensure absolute safety, I always suggest discussing the prospect of prenatal breastmilk expressing with your Midwife or Obstetrician.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BREAST MILK EXPRESSING?
Decreases need for infant formula use
Gives you a greater chance of successfully breastfeeding long term
Provides greater immune protection to your baby
Reduces complications associated low blood sugar levels for infants
Helps establish a full milk supply more quickly
Increases mother's confidence in hand expressing
HOW DO I EXPRESS MY BREASTMILK WHILST PREGNANT?
Hand expressing can begin from 36 weeks gestation following approval from your Midwife or Obstetrician
Start with 3-5 minutes of hand expressing on each breast, twice daily - working your way to 10 minutes per session
If you experience uterine tightenings, contractions or pain whilst expressing, cease expressing immediately & discuss this with your Midwife or Obstetrician
Check out the video below for more information
HOW DO I STORE MY BREASTMILK UNTIL MY BABY IS BORN? Ask your Midwife or Obstetrician for some 1 or 2ml syringes, caps and breastmilk labels When you have filled your syringe at least halfway, cap the syringe and label the date and time Store your capped syringe of breastmilk into a plastic ziplock bag in a container, to the back of the freezer where the temperature is most stable.
HOW DO I TRANSPORT MY BREASTMILK TO HOSPITAL? Transport your frozen breastmilk in a cooler back with an ice block, to keep if frozen. Let your Midwife on admission know that you have frozen breastmilk - this is so that it can be Labelled & stored safe for use when needed.
HOW DO I THAW THE FROZEN BREASTMILK? Frozen breastmilk can be thawed overnight in the fridge, it can even be placed in a container of water (room temperature) to thaw.
HOW DO I FEED MY BREASTMILK TO MY BABY? Breastmilk can be fed by spoon (AKA 'spoon feeding') or a medicine cup (AKA 'cup feeding'). Ask your Midwife to show you how to do this safely. Your midwife will be able to advise you as to how much you will need to feed your baby. Most babies will have approximately 2-5mls per feed on their birthday.
REFERENCES: 1. Advising women with diabetes in pregnancy to express breastmilk in late pregnancy, Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing (DAME): a multicentre, unblinded, randomised controlled trial was conducted between 2011 and 2015. The La Trobe University-led study included the Royal Women’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Health, Barwon Health and Peninsula Health