This is a guest post by Lyndsey Malone, RN with The Mama Coach
Are you expecting? You may be thinking about the breastfeeding experience. The number one thing you can do to set yourself up for success with nursing is establishing a relationship with a lactation consultant who can educate you both before and after baby is born, and give you support along the way. One of the things your lactation consultant may suggest practicing is antenatal hand expression.
Antenatal hand expression is the process of collecting colostrum while you are still pregnant. This concept might sound a bit odd to you at first, BUT it works, and it has some amazing benefits to go along with it!
It isn’t just second nature to know how to handle your breasts for breastfeeding, it’s something you have to learn. Learning and practicing antenatal hand expression will enable you to get used to handling your breasts before baby even arrives. Breastfeeding your baby will feel so much more natural, and less awkward, when you're already used to handling your breasts in this way.
Antenatal hand expression is a fairly new practice and was commonly only recommended for mamas who were at higher risk of needing to supplement their babies, like diabetic mamas or mamas pregnant with multiples. Now, however, research shows that practicing antenatal hand expression at the end of pregnancy can have positive long term effects on your milk supply. Antenatal hand expression is the key to an ample milk supply for lots of mamas!
As you practice antenatal hand expression and begin to collect your colostrum, you are building a freezer stash for your baby before baby even arrives! Babies often need supplementation after birth due to low blood sugar or jaundice. If your baby ends up needing supplementation, you will be prepared for that, and can easily feed your baby your stored colostrum. (Just don’t forget to bring it to the hospital with you!)
Before you jump head first into antenatal hand expression, it is always important to first consult with your doctor to make sure you are a good candidate for doing so. For example, you should not practice antenatal hand expression if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, have been diagnosed with placenta previa or are at risk for preterm labor.
For more information on antenatal hand expression, including an instructional video, click here. If you feel like you need some extra guidance and support, feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to help!
It is an overwhelming time to be pregnant or to be breastfeeding and caring for a tiny baby. COVID-19 brings a whole added element to keeping you and your baby safe and healthy. I am offering virtual prenatal classes as well as prenatal feeding workshops. Both include special segments on COVID-19 and will help to answer all of your questions and concerns.
We want mamas everywhere to have access to helpful, up-to-date and reliable information. Download our free Mama Coach ebooks on “Tips for Expressing Breastmilk During COVID-19” and “The Mama Coach Guide to COVID-19”
You’ve got this, mama!
Lyndsey is a Registered Nurse with 8 years of experience, and a mama to 4 littles. She is Owner of The Mama Coach in Atlanta, Georgia and loves supporting and educating mamas from all over the country. She specializes in prenatal education, lactation support and sleep coaching. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram and Facebook.