Chris and I were on a Google Hangout chat with his cousin and wife on Saturday night and discussing pregnancy and breast feeding. His cousin’s wife, who is a midwife/nurse, told me that it’s becoming more recommended in Australia to begin hand expressing milk before the baby is born, after 35 weeks of gestation. While I’d heard of women experiencing colustrum leakage in the weeks leading up to birth, I’d never heard of women actually expressing and pumping milk before baby arrives. She said that since it may cause labor to begin, it’s safest to begin this process after 35 weeks. According to the Haakaa manual pump site, they suggest doing it after 37 weeks to be safe. You basically manually warm and squeeze your breasts to try to express the thick colustrum (first breast milk, which is usually really thick unlike later breast milk) out. Only a little comes out at a time, so it’s collected via a sterilized syringe and then stored in the fridge or freezer so that when baby is born, she will have food to immediately eat. Plus, this also expedites your body producing milk instead of waiting 3+ days for regular milk to come after birth since your breasts operate on a demand cycle; the more you express and feed, the more milk your body will produce.
This totally made sense to me, but I had no idea why no one had mentioned this to me before. My doctors never mentioned it, and neither did my doulas. I’m apprehensive about labor before 37 weeks, though, so I’m going to wait until week 37 to try this out. It’s supposed to be frustrating and have a big learning curve, but I’m definitely willing to do it, especially to prevent my baby from having these disgusting American infant formulas that have corn syrup and sugar in them.