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Thread: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supply

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Default Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supply

    I am due in August, and have a history of traumatic breast injuries and reconstructive surgeries. I have been reading several books, including a book about breastfeeding after reduction surgery (the closest thing I could find to my actual injuries and subsequent surgeries), and "making more milk", as well as "The womanly art of breastfeeding." My main concern is that I will be fighting with decreased milk production constantly because there is some nerve damage in both breasts,and I expect to contend with staff at the hospital so that when I have to tell them about my injuries, and they will try to push unnecessary supplementation on me. It is said in "making milk" that expressing colostrum at week 34 of pregnancy and storing it for use in the hospital may help to increase milk production overall, and anything I can do to get a head start would be great. I would likely spoon or finger feed my daughter with the stored colostrum. Has anyone done this and if so, what were your results? I am aware that breast stimulation in pregnancy can cause contractions due to a release of oxytocin, however I have not noted any contractions when I express a few drops thus far, and am very careful about watching for them.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2006
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    I have not done this (I have no breast trauma), but offhand it does not sound like a bad idea. You are correct that nipple stimulation can cause contractions, but usually this is not a problem unless a woman is at risk of pre-term labor. For example, many moms continue breastfeeding toddlers while pregnant with no ill effects. (me included)
    Do you have a supportive health care provider? With your medical history, I'd guess you probably require more specialized advice that any of us can give. Is your prenatal provider supportive? Have you thought about seeking out the services of an IBCLC? (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  3. #3
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    Congrats on your almost here new arrival.

    Due to severe radiation damage to my right breast, I was also advised to pump colostrum during pregnancy. Unfortunately, nothing happened. The breast was just too damaged. I would -- if you don't mind -- suggest seeing a breast surgeon or someone who can order a prenatal breast ultrasound for you. It helps to get a sense of breast changes toward pregnancy and milk production made so far. Having some prior knowledge of how your breasts are reacting can really take away the fear of what might happen after birth that I suspect a lot of us with damaged breasts might have (in addition to the normal and common fears we all have). I was terrified, absolutely terrified, that my one breasted feeding would starve my LO.

    Another suggestion, again just based on experience, make sure your history of breast damage (whatever the cause) is in your hospital chart or have your partner ready to explain and defend for you. Nothing is more frustrating than having to explain to countless nurses with every shift change why you are or aren't feeding a certain way. My right breast is damaged due to breast cancer and talking about it over and over again just added to some of that inevitable anxiety that follows birth. My husband picked up on it and just started preempting questions for me. Don't let the experience of being asked about and talking about trauma take away from your wonderful and beautiful bonding time with baby.

    Congrats and your going to do great!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    You should not have trouble at the hospital. Your milk will take a couple days to arrive so you should be gone before they know there might be a problem with supply.

    I had NO idea that the two lumpectomies I had in my 20s damaged my right breast until I had to pump for my fourth child. My right makes, at it's best, 8 oz in 24 hours. Right now, it is only making 1 oz in the same time frame. Yet...I successfully nursed three children and have successfully EPed for my fourth.

    Watch wets and poops, don't assume anything and if you find you need to supplement, always finish at the breast.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  5. #5
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    You have chosen good books. Making More Milk is the go to book for low milk supply, and both Defining Your Own Success and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition) should also have very helpful info for you. BTW there are also forums on the low milk supply website started by the authors of Making More Milk. They tend to not be as active as the forums here but just fyi.

    Does your hospital have an on-staff lactation consultant? If they do, I wonder if you can contact her ahead of time with your concerns. And/or whatever pediatrician(s) would typically be there. Remember that, as far as I know, hospital 'staff' cannot order you to do anything. Much if the time, the insistence on unnecessary supplementation comes from nurses. It shouldn't. Formula supplementation for a breastfed baby is a medical intervention and should be ordered by a physician who has examined the baby and determined it is necessary. When nurses were bugging me about unnecessary supplementation when I was in the hospital for my youngest, I told them I would only consider it after talking to a doctor with a prescription pad. Nothing more was said. (I was there 3 and a half days after birth, due to c-section)

    I would also suggest preparing your self for the possibility that supplementation will be necessary. If you are able to express colustrum before birth, (and you may not be able to, even moms with fine supply cannot always do so) you should be able to bring that to the hospital for your baby (ask someone about protocols.) You can also express or pump colustrum in the hospital, (FYI many moms find hand expression works better than a pump in the first few days after birth.) Great you are considering alternative feeding methods (other than bottles) for any needed supplementation-have you considered a lactaion aid? Let me know if you would like more info on that. Needing to supplement, even wiht formula, either early on or ongoing, need not be a barrier to breastfeeding. There are many moms who for whatever reason cannot exclusively breastfeed who still breastfeed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    As bad as I hate to admit it, I do need to prepare myself for the possibility that supplementation may be needed. I have a few cans of formula that I have stuffed out of sight into the closet. I am trying to be optimistic, but really I know that that possibility exists. As I read your reply, it occurred to me that I am preparing for all other options except for that one, which is not going to be good for me if it comes to that. I have heard of the Lact-Aid, and I actually have used one briefly with my son when he was refusing to latch. If I have to supplement on a regular basis, I plan to try that first. I am able to express quite a lot of colostrum and I am only 27 weeks, I've been producing since 15 weeks, and I can pull up what I get prenatally and store it in syringes to keep frozen until I need them.It's so easy to try to say that because I can produce colostrum, I will be able to EBF but I know that's not necessarily the case. I am prepared to stand up to the hospital staff, and I don't think I'll have too much of a problem. I'm an RN, breastfeeding educator and adviser, and I have worked in OB for one and a half years before I stated doing hospice 3 years ago. I plan to call the lactation center and see if they can see me prenatally. Thank you so much for your advice, I'll be sure and check out the making more milk forum.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    Again, I would say be prepared, but don't assume you can't. You might be surprised. My midwife suggested I wouldn't be able to breastfeed on the one side because of the scar tissue, but I tried anyway...and it worked. My babies didn't like that side as much, but they could nurse from it. But the other side was totally adequate.

    But I work with several moms who have had to supplement for various reasons, and basically, they have to determine their own success. For one, it was simply being able to breastfeed him for comfort, as she makes no milk at all, and she gives him most of his nourishment from formula. And it's OK. If you need to supplement, it doesnt mean you can't nurse for part of his feeding.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    Thank you for you encouraging words! I haven't thought about having my husband help me with all the explanation, but now that you bring it up, it sure would be nice. Unfortunately, I won't be able to afford any diagnostic testing beforehand. My insurance is not very BFing friendly, and won't even supply me with a pump even though I greatly anticipate having latch on problems with the more damaged breast. See, I was in a car accident 3 days after the birth of my daughter, and my milk had just come in the day before. The seat belt split my right breast in half internally, and I have had 2 surgeries on it. I pumped for 2 weeks after the accident, but when I stopped (I had broke over half my ribs and fractured my neck, so I had to have a lot of help with it and the only thing I heard was how I needed to stop because I was on so many meds they weren't giving my daughter the milk anyway.)The other breast developed an abscess that ruptured, and during my lengthy hospital stay, gauze was left in it by one of the nurses and it although it was put in at the bottom of my breast, it came out 6 weeks later in between my breasts. So I basically have nerve damage on the inner part of both breasts. I can literally draw a line where the feeling stats back again, and based off that, I know that the intercoastal nerves responsible for let down are still intact. So I do have quite a lot of information already. Thank you for your advice, I might just write out a little paper to keep in the chart. More time to focus on nursing and bonding rather than entertaining the hospital staff.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,259

    Default Re: Expressing colostrum during pregnancy for increased supp

    Owwwwwww cringe owwww. My goodness, you really did have severe trauma

    I totally understand not wanting to prepare for 'the worst.' I am pregnant with number 3 and due to a couple of issues I am concerned I may not make enough milk this time or that at the very least that I should be prepared to supplement baby early on. Someone told me basically what I just told you about being prepared to supplement and how even so moms can still breastfeed, blah blah blah, and frankly it pissed me off! They were right of course but I was kind of like "I know all about that but I don't want to have to DO that..."
    But I also think it's good to have some knowledge of the alternatives, which it sounds like you do, even if you then shove them to the back of your mind and think positive. After my first surprise c-section I really wished that in some part of our several weeks of birth class they had covered c-sections and the aftermath.
    Cool about the colustrum you have expressed! I am not quite far enough along to try yet.

    Yes I agree educate/empower husband to speak on your behalf, and/or bring a friend or doula. it is hard to fight these battles alone right after giving birth.

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