All you need to know about expressing during pregnancy

This leaflet is designed for pregnant women with type 1 or type 2 Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

What is colostrum?

It is the first form of milk your breast produces during your pregnancy and after delivering your baby. It is thick, sticky and yellowish or dark in color. It is the ideal food for your newborn baby.

How can expressing colostrum during my pregnancy help my newborn baby?

When a mother who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes (GDM) the baby is at risk of having low blood sugar levels after birth. Your frozen colostrum can help improve your baby’s blood sugar levels after delivery.

What is the benefit for me and my baby?

Mother Baby
  • Reduce concerns about the ability of producing milk.
  • Reduce the anxiety about your baby feeding
  • Reduce the risk of some breast diseases.
  • Quicker return of uterus to pre pregnancy size
  • help to lose your weight
  • Expressing can assist in the promotion of successful, exclusive breastfeeding for the mother and her baby
  • Helps your baby build a strong immune system (contains antibodies and white blood cells).
  • Creates a tough coating on your baby’s stomach & intestines to keep germs from causing illness and prevent inflammation.
  • Acts as a laxative to help your baby pass meconium (the dark first poop).
  • Helps prevent jaundice and gets rid of harmful waste products.
  • Gives your baby’s brain, eyes and heart the right blend of nutrients to grow.
  • Contains high levels of protein, salts, fats, and vitamins for complete nutrition.
  • Complete nutrition that your baby’s stomach can easily digest. It’s the perfect food for your newborn.
  • Helps to prevent low blood sugar in newborns.

When can I start expressing?

Your healthcare provider will advise on when you can start expressing, ideally at the end of your pregnancy from week 36. You will be provided with initial kit for hand expression.

What does hand expressing mean?

It is a technique where you use your own hand to express colostrum from your breast.

How can I express colostrum by hand? (Step by step)

  • Wash hand with soap and water and dry using a clean towel/cloth before expressing
  • Put a warm pad on the breast to increase the flow of colostrum
  • Sit comfortably and massage gently or stroke the breast towards the nipple with clean hands
  • Cup the breast in a ‘C’ shape using your thumb above your nipple and other 4 fingers below your nipple.
  • Press the breast towards your chest, then compress and release.
  • Collect the colostrum using a clean syringe
  • Adjust your finger position if you don’t see any drops of colostrum
  • Express each breast twice per day

How do I store my colostrum?

To store your colostrum, follow the below instructions.

  • Express directly from the nipples into a syringe
  • Freeze (-18  ̊C) the syringe containing colostrum collected in 24 hours in the zipped bag. Keep the syringe in the fridge (5  ̊C) between the expressing sessions and freeze it only once.
  • Label every syringe with the date and time and add syringes to the bag in the freezer daily.
  • Bring frozen syringes to the hospital when you are in labor or coming for caesarean section or induction of labor.
  • When coming to the hospital, keep the colostrum wrapped in a clean cloth surrounded by ice blocks in a hard cooler.


Expressing colostrum may cause painless womb contractions to occur. If these contractions become regular and painful, STOP hand expressing and speak to your doctor.