colostrum harvesting

Everything you need to know about colostrum harvesting

colostrum harvesting

What is colostrum harvesting? Colostrum harvesting is hand expressing colostrum from the breast antenatally, to store for after the birth. It is advised that you do not start harvesting colostrum until you are 36 weeks’ pregnant.

Some of the many benefits include:

  • It will make you feel empowered and have an active role in the care of your newborn.
  • It teaches you how to hand express.
  • It makes you familiar and more confident with how breast feeding works.
  • If in the early days your baby requires supplements, the colostrum can be used instead of formula e.g. preventing the risk of low blood glucose levels in the newborn or slow weight gain.
  • Nipple stimulation/the act of expressing milk  can be a natural way of initiating labour because oxytocin is stimulated.

How to express colostrum

You can hand express milk from 36 weeks gestation* (DAME study, The Lancet).

*unless there are any contradictions e.g. certain medications. Always discuss with your midwife if you are on any medications to see if these are compatible with breastfeeding.
  1. Wash you hands.
  2. Gently massage your breast and nipple to stimulate the hormones needed to release colostrum.
  3. Position your thumb and index fingers in a C-shape, 2-3cms back from the base of your nipple.
  4. Gently press and release, and keep repeating until colostrum starts to flow.

Hand expressing 2-3 times daily is recommended and the amount of milk will vary from a few drops to a teaspoon. These small amounts are ideal for your baby as colostrum is high on calories and packed full of antibodies. You may find when you are harvesting your colostrum your uterus tightens and relaxes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions.

Storing colostrum

  1. Breast milk can be kept in the same syringe. Syringes should be capped and kept at the back of the fridge at a maximum temperature of 4degrees.
  2. At the end of the day syringe(s) of colostrum should be sealed in a breast milk storage bag and frozen.
  3. Each syringe should be labelled with your name, date and time of expressing.
  4. Colostrum can be stored for 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or up to 6 months in a freezer at -18degrees .

Don’t forget to bring some frozen colostrum into the hospital when admitted for your baby’s birth. Let your midwife know you have it and they will arrange to have it stored correctly. They have to record the date and time it was removed from the freezer. Defrosted colostrum should be discarded or used within 24 hours. If your breast milk is frozen then the best way to transport it is in a coolbag with cool block.

What is Hypnobirthing?

what is hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal training programme. Some people are put off by the word ‘hypno’ thinking it involves stage hypnosis or associate it with the ‘hippie’ life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is commonly known as the ‘Fear-Tension-Pain cycle’ plays a huge part in a woman’s mind and body when they think about labour and during birthing . This theory describes how a rush of adrenaline ( natural response to a fight or flight situation) if it is experienced during birthing  will suppress oxytocinon and hence delay the birth. Adrenaline will not just suppress the birth hormone but it will also cause pain as the uterus becomes tense as a result of reduced blood supply.  This negative cycle  must be understood by parents to enable clarity on the importance of a calm environment, the release of endorphins and a positive mental approach to facilitate a relaxed birth. In essence hypnobirthing teaches and empowers the birthing mother and her birthing partner to work together to reverse the affects of stress, to let the birthing hormones do their job!

Hypnobirthing works by not only reducing the fear and worries of the birthing process but also giving mothers and their partners  an understanding of how their birthing body works. During our hypnobirthing sessions, we give the best tips, tools and golden nuggets to use at birth in order to positively enhance the experience. The main objective in hypnobirthing is to be in control, to feel calm and confident, no matter what turn the birth takes.

How does it work?

The techniques used are gentle yet effective.

Hypnobirthing sessions begin by learning correct breathing techniques – diaphragmatic breathing;  this allows the body to lower stress levels by reducing adrenaline and increasing the feel good hormones, ‘endorphins’.

Also, relaxation techniques and antenatal education empowers a woman and her partner to birth fully in control, without anxiety, no matter what turn the birth takes.  It encourages a woman and her partner to remain positive throughout the birth and to work with the body and mind to gain control over her labour. It promotes birth as a natural bodily function. Hypnobirthing also uses visualisation, massage and the use of anchors such as positive affirmations. These all help to redirect the birthing mother’s thoughts, to detach her from her focus on any pain.They help by putting her focus on automatic pilot, this is a natural state of mind and occurs regularity in your day eg it is the same as when you are driving the same route home, you arrive and don’t remember passing the signs. The mind was on automatic pilot . It is a state of consciousness requiring focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness of the outside world.

This is hypnobirthing! Breathing correctly, deep relaxation, massage, positive affirmations, an informed, in-tune   birthing partner and a quiet, calm environment.

Everything taught through our hypnobirthjng  sessions makes sense – it has a good mix of science, experience and wisdom. Using hypnobirthing techniques during birth makes a real difference to a woman’s experience.

prepare for birth

How To Best Prepare For Birth

prepare for birth

Are you a little anxious or nervous about giving birth? Feeling prepared and having the right information can have a positive impact on your confidence during your labour and birth. A positive birth story is an incredible and empowering experience. Here are some of our top tips to prepare your body, and your mind for birth.

Keep moving…

  • During your pregnancy keep active! Movement improves your wellbeing and supports flexibility. Walking helps to tone and keep muscles supple in pregnancy. Listen to your body carefully. Adjust the time and pace to suit your needs. The pelvis opens better during birthing when it has been kept mobile and balanced.
  • Using gravity is beneficial – walking helps your baby’s head to settle in the head down position in your pelvis in the final weeks of your pregnancy.
  • Avoid carrying a toddler on one hip as this will cause an imbalance in your pelvis..it is best to carry the toddler at the front or on your back to balance the weight.
  • During pregnancy your body releases the hormone relaxin which makes your pelvis more flexible, ready for giving birth, but also means that any extra pressure on joints may lead to lower back pain or injury.
  • Wear comfy flat shoes rather than high heels or keep them for special occasions as high heels can change your posture-they change your centre of gravity putting extra strain on your back and joints.
  • Don’t sit too long in one position and avoid reclining on sofas. Getting up and moving around every 30mins or so is a good idea.
  • See an expert/physiotherapist if you have any history of pelvic injury or discomfort.
  • Wear the correctly fitted maternity bra and get expert advice re size. A good fitting bra ensures support and allows ease of movement.

Invest in a Birthing Ball

Benefits of using a birthing ball in pregnancy:

  • It distributes your weight more evenly relieving spinal pressure and may ease backache, while keeping your hips and pelvis flexible during pregnancy.
  • It will help you resist the urge to slump e.g. in a sofa or armchair therefore promoting good posture.
    Sitting upright on a birthing ball is like a mini workout as your abdomen and back muscles have to work hard to keep you upright. Ensure that your feet stay flat on the floor while you are sitting on the ball.
  • In the latter stages of pregnancy leaning forward over your ball may help with optimum fetal positioning i.e. ensuring the baby is lying in an anterior position ready for birth. It is a good idea to ask your Midwife about the position of your baby around your 34 week appointment.
  • Do not bounce on the ball forcefully instead use gentle movements.
  • In labour you may instinctively rotate your pelvis while having contractions and your birthing ball will give you good support for this.
  • Birth partners can easily access your back for light touch massaging or lower back massage during your pregnancy or while birthing.
  • During the birth you may like to lean over the ball on a hands and knees position.
  • This may reduce pelvic pressure and allow lots of room for the baby’s head to descend and birth.

Using the correct size of birthing ball is vital:

If your height is 4’8″-5’3″ a 55cms ball is appropriate 5’4″-5’10” a 65cms ball is right

5’11’-6’4″ a 75 cms ball is the correct size
*remember sometimes for Mums with longer legs a larger ball may be appropriate to ensure your knees remain at a lower level to your hips when sitting on the ball.

*Your birthing ball also must be properly inflated.

Mind your mental health…

‘Self-care during pregnancy is the first gift that a mother can give to her child.’

Taking time to look after your mental health throughout your pregnancy is vital.

Factor in some time daily to ‘Be Still,’ to process your thoughts and emotions during this amazing but often daunting journey to motherhood. Physical changes, alongside fatigue and perhaps sickness can make you feel overwhelmed without the added pressures of modern day living and social media pressure. This is the perfect time to connect to your developing baby -to talk to them. Becoming a Mother also means a change of role, which some may find challenging. It may also be a trigger for Mums-to-be on their life experiences and there is help for those who have anxieties whether it is about the birth or other concerns. You can self-refer to a midwife or see your GP for support. There is a new perinatal mental health community service recently funded here in Northern Ireland, find out what services are available where you live.

  • It is time to plan ahead-think now of building your support system-surrounding yourself with positive friendships and family.
  • Ensure your partner is included and involved throughout your pregnancy, and is aware of their role at the birth.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.

‘Remember there is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be good one!’

Joyce and Annie, Midwives at BirthDays want to nurture and support you throughout your journey to parenthood to make it a positive memory that you can treasure forever.

To view our range of course, click here.

First Trimester

Let’s Talk About The First Trimester

First Trimester

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Now is the time to prepare and nuture yourself on the most exciting journey of your life. As Midwives, Joyce and I are here to support you and your partner on your journey. Your Pregnancy has three phases called trimesters and each trimester is about 3 months long. The first trimester (weeks 1 to 12) is one of the most important, even when you can’t see what’s happening inside your body. Your body is busy building your new baby! How incredible, exciting and exhausting is this?

The heart is the first functional organ to develop and at 22 days the heart starts to beat and pump blood.

At 6 weeks, your baby’s heartbeat can usually be detected.

The digestive system starts to develop from the third week and by the 12th week the organs have correctly positioned themselves.

The eyes begin to develop from the third to the 10th week.

Limb buds appear by the end of the fourth week.

By 42 days, the baby’s nose mouth and ears are taking shape and the baby is the size of a lentil.

At 8 weeks, your baby has started to move around and is the size of a kidney bean.

Everyone is different and your experience is unique. There is no way of knowing how you will feel during your pregnancy until you are pregnant. 

Growing a baby takes lots of energy. You are making an entire placenta along with many of the baby’s major organ systems in the first 12 weeks! 

Always remember to give yourself some ‘you’ time during the day.

Listen to your body….take that power nap! 

Our ‘I’m Pregnant, What’s Next’ course is perfect for newly expectant mothers in their first trimester. Find out more here.

“Self-care during pregnancy is the first gift that a mother can give to her child”.