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While breast milk is the healthiest choice you can make for your baby, it is not always an option for new parents. If you are not sure about breastfeeding, it is a good idea to commit to pumping colostrum when your infant is born so that the baby will receive the important antibodies and nourishment from it.
Colostrum is the first milk your breasts produce, and is the most important for your newborn baby to receive. Colostrum has very high amounts of antibodies and other important substances that promote a healthy baby. Pumping colostrum is slightly difficult because it is much thicker and stickier than mature breast milk. Colostrum is also secreted in very small amounts, usually measured by teaspoons rather than ounces like breast milk. The hospital or home health nurse should give you sterile jars for the colostrum. Colostrum is absorbed almost instantly through the infant's GI tract, so it can be rubbed on the gums of an infant or fed by a nursing syringe. The colostrum starts working to prevent illnesses and promote growth right away.
Pumping colostrum can occur with an electric breast pump, double pumping kit or hand pumping kit. There are no special colostrum pumps, the only difference is that colostrum is thicker than regular breast milk. Your breasts are stimulated by pumping colostrum and breastfeeding, which encourages a stronger milk supply throughout lactation. You should try pumping colostrum 8-10 times per day during the first few weeks of infancy to help stimulate prolactin, a hormone which produces breast milk.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|