Ages & Stages

Study shows that colostrum provides a life-long immune boost for babies – here are our fave tips, tricks and products to get started

Jessie Day, in partnership with Wren  |   3 Jul 2024

We have a very special (double) delivery to obsess over at TRB HQ – founder Eloise’s twins arrived a couple of weeks ago, and after a short stay in NICU, are causing the family all sorts of wonderful chaos at home.

On Eloise’s to-do list, before her twins arrived, was getting to grips with colostrum harvesting. She used this brilliant guide for the full how-to with Wren, creators of award-winning pumps and feeding support (keep reading for the full intro).

A recent study published in Allergy has found that colostrum – the highly concentrated breast milk which provides your baby’s first few days of feeds, after birth – provides a lifelong immunity boost for newborn babies.

And there’s a growing stack of reading on all the other benefits too, the short list including:

  • lifelong immunity support
  • a rich supply of nutrients
  • an infant gut health boost
  • natural laxative properties
  • whole-body regulation (from temperature to blood sugar levels)
  • growth factor proteins, for steady development

Eloise handled a difficult c-section like an absolute pro. And while talking through her birth story in the days afterwards, I asked about her colostrum harvesting goals.

“I wish I’d been able to,” she said – “it would’ve been really helpful when I was recovering from the c-section and couldn’t get to NICU straight after. 

Both twins’ blood sugar levels dipped – which is really common – and the team dealt with it quickly using glucose, but I know from all my reading and research that colostrum can be a huge support for blood sugar regulation, and so many other things.” 

A few weeks in, the twins are thriving and feeding is going well. But Eloise has asked me and our breastfeeding kit go-to Wren – who’ve just taken home the platinum at the 2024 Loved By Parents Awards and gold at Project Baby 2024 (whoop!) – to put together this mini guide to colostrum harvesting, for anyone who – just like her – wants to get started, before or right after their baby arrives.

So, the 1-2-3 of colostrum harvesting, with the mamas and team who know. Here’s how to get started. 


1. When does my body produce colostrum?

Twiddling your thumbs at the tail end of pregnancy? 

Nature knows her stuff, and has equipped our bodies to kick into gear and start producing colostrum even before your little one(s) make their grand entrance.

While the exact timing varies from person to person – breastfeeding itself is as unique as the milk supply and composition we build and produce – your breasts begin the process of creating colostrum well in advance. And this ensures your baby has their super-nourishing first feed waiting for them, as soon as they arrive.

Seeing colostrum before birth? Many mums do. Using a specifically designed colostrum harvesting kit can be super-helpful here, and between feeds after birth, to catch any first drops ready for storing (the little storage bottles included in Wren’s kit are handy for this). 

2. What will I need?

You’ve got your birth bag ready to go – instead of re-packing it over those final watch-and-wait days, why not put together a little colostrum harvesting kit, and give it a go? 

Many midwives recommend starting to harvest colostrum from week 36 of pregnancy, so you’ve got this nutrient-dense super milk ready to go, for when your baby arrives.

Once you get the hang of it, hand-expressing colostrum is pretty simple, but here’s a list of the bits and bobs you’ll find helpful:

  • several sterile colostrum syringes (no needle, with caps)
  • a stash of labels
  • your fave nipple balm (we love this one) to keep things comfy
  • storage which is fit for purpose – take a look at the collector bottles in Wren’s kit
  • breast pads in case of leakage just after
  • a nipple protector and milk collector, to prevent clothing friction and squirrel away any colostrum which appears, after you’ve tried harvesting

3. Find a calm 30 minutes

Got all your bits?

Find half an hour where you’ll be left in peace and able to fully relax – we love colostrum harvesting in the bath, actually, for the benefit of a warm soak, privacy and no worries over spillages. 

Using a firm but gentle downwards stroking motion, run a flat palm or closed fist from the top of your breast towards the nipple. Keep watching for signs of colostrum appearing – don’t worry if you don’t see anything yet – which may be milky or clear and even a yellowish colour. 

After a few minutes – and only if you’re comfortable – you can move on to gently stroking and squeezing a few centimetres up from your nipple with your thumb and forefinger. We recommend asking your midwife to show you the best technique, here. 

Once you’ve had a few tries, you may start seeing colostrum gather at the nipple – in which case, go, go, go! Have your syringe ready, collect what you can, and put the cap on. From there, you can label and freeze your syringes ready for thawing when needed, or put everything straight into a freezer bag, to bring along (on ice) to the hospital, or store at home. 

All done? You’re a total boss. Reward yourself with feet up, chill, and those award-winning, super-soft bamboo pads for the comfiest nips

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