Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Second baby due in July - considering expressing a bit of colostrum 1-2 weeks before - any thoughts?

Hi all,

I've posted here loads since having pp after my son in March 2014. Onset was about 6 days after birth.

My next baby is due in 9 weeks. I think I've put a good preventative plan together (protected sleep by family helping at night, starting meds that worked last time on high dose, reducing visitors, avoiding stress now).

I won't be breastfeeding this time as I don't want to pass any meds on and I can't feed on Aripriprizole anyway - plus this frees me to sleep.

I'll give the first breast feed then start meds & exclusively bottle feed. I just wondered if anyone expressed colostrum a couple of weeks before due date? I'm divided as I don't want to mess with hormones but I'd like to give the baby a bit for immunity - any thoughts welcome (please speak freely). I don't really have anyone to ask as everyone's opinions on this are black or white, few people see benefits of both ways!

11 Replies

It's always good to express from 37/40, I would recommend this x


Did you do this? Did you have pp after doing this? Sorry I really just don't want to mess with my hormones / bring on early labour but it would be good to know people who did it and were ok.


Hi Mims2014,

I hope you're feeling well.

I had PP with my first child in 2012 and have recently had a second son, he's 3 months and a joy :)

My planning was similar to yours and happily I've stayed well and am now considered out of the high risk period in terms of a relapse which is a huge relief.

Like you, I decided not to breastfeed. I'm taking a low dose of medication for 6 months and on top of not wanting to risk passing anything on I also wanted to remove/minimise all potential stress factors and breastfeeding became a bit of a fixation leading up to and during my illness first time round. 

My plan initially was to do the first feed and then start medication but then I decided to see how the first 24 hours went (my PP didn't start until around 3 weeks after birth so I felt I had a bit of time) - I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself though.

My health visitor suggested trying to express colostrum in the last couple of weeks before the birth. I thought this was a good idea and decided to give it a try, again no pressure though. In my case, I couldn't do it so that was that! My view is go for it if you want to give it a try (I've no idea what it might do to hormones so can offer no advice or view around that) but don't put any pressure on yourself, if it's easy great, if not never mind. I couldn't express a drop let alone fill a syringe!

In the end, I breastfed my son for the first 36 hours - he was born in the morning, I stayed in hospital for the first night and the staff took him between feeds then we went home the following afternoon and I started medication that evening and he went onto formula (my mum ended up coming that evening as my husband developed a migraine and we all realised we had no idea how to formula feed a newborn baby in terms of how much to offer and how often so maybe get a bit of advice ahead of time if you're not sure either!!)

Whatever you decide, try not to get anxious about anything - do whatever is the least stressful option. By far and away the most important thing is that you stay well and I'm sure your planning will stand you in good stead.

All the very best with everything x


Thanks. I'm really not anxious about this - just hungry for info as there is so little about to do with pp at all. I didn't realise it was difficult so I'll do a half hearted attempt (which I would have anyway with a toddler!).

Thanks so much for your reply, it's really encouraging and useful. Glad you've been ok this time xx

1 like

I absolutely agree with the above, just do what makes you feel less anxious. The hormone that stimulates contractions is the same hormone that causes the 'let down' reflex of breast milk therefore nipple stimulation is recommended as a form of labour induction. However this does not mean that expressing milk at term will necessarily bring on labour. I tried and got the tiniest amount so was hardly worth it for me, I also found attempting and failing to breast feed a huge trigger for my anxiety and subsequent pp. 

I am a midwife but on here as a previous pp sufferer only, just wanted to try offer any help/knowledge I have. But no health professional can ever know how you feel as much you do, so please try go with what feels right for you not what you think you should do. 

Many congrats on your pregnancy, I hope this has been of some help 



Thanks for your reply, very useful. I'll give it a half hearted attempt and I won't stress about it as although we know 'breast is best' I have accepted that it isn't best for me & my family. It too was a fixation for me - I think that's very common but it isn't now.

Being a midwife that suffered pp - I feel there's a good book deal there! X


Hi Mims2014,

Congratulations on your pregnancy. It sounds as though you have been doing lots of great preparation. Some great advice above.

All the best for the next few weeks.

Jessie x

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Really encouraging to hear from all of you about pre baby planning. Congrats on the little one being nearly here! Wouldn't do the colostrum thing until three weeks before as anything below 37 weeks is considered premature (in case it brings on labour). I tried to hand express colostrum in hospital after the birth of my son and it is hard, hard work, so don't get too fixated on it. Great if you can do it and try and get specialise perinatal advice if it's available where you live 

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Thanks, yeah it being very hard seems to be a common theme here, nevermind, it was just an idea. I didn't get a drop of breast milk as a baby and have a first class honours degree and fantastic immune system so I'm not too stressed if I can't do any.

There was a specialist perinatal service it they decided to stop it the day before my appointment! I don't mind though as I've seen Prof Ian Jones via Skype and my General MH consultant is much nicer than the perinatal one so it's worked out ok!

Thanks again xx


Hi Mims2014, congratulations on your pregnancy.

As I mentioned on another reply, I didn't breastfeed after my second as I was starting meds but as baby was born in the morning, I did a couple of breastfeeds before starting meds and bottle in the evening. This was whilst in hospital (I stayed in 4 nights so had plenty of help and rest in a private room, which was great and a good reassurance not to be at home if anything pp related had started, but I know everyone is different, this was good for me).

I have never heard of expressing colostrum but from other replies it sounds possible if perhaps less than easy. Perhaps something to try but not get too hung up on, which it sounds like you aren't anyway. The initial feeds before meds might be something to consider if it would suit your situation, as it did us.

All the best for what is an exciting time, I hope your plans continue to go well, take care, xx


Hi Mims2014,

I managed to remain healthy after my second child and I'm now two and a half years in. I think 'fed and happy is best' -not breast. I think it's easy to fixate on breast feeding due to the militant nature of the 'breast is best' brigade. I was desperate to breast feed.

With my second I decided to try and express colostrum and thought I could use a pump, unfortunately you can only express colostrum by hand (that's what I was told). I went to the hospital to see the breast feeding specialist and she easily expressed from me but I found it very hard to emulate what she did. I spent ages expressing very little. I ended up in hospital with a low-lying placenta and, with the help of a trainee mid-wife, I expressed about 5ml but it took about two hours. 

The next day my beautiful little girl was born and I breast fed her with no company after the birth (it was lovely). I then took medication and proudly gave her the colostrum -not much of it really seemed to go down. She slept most of the first day and didn't really need feeding. The following night she woke hungry and the mid-wives (who looked after her through the night so I could sleep) fed her lots of formula which I jokingly said had probably washed through the piffling amount of colostrum I'd expressed.

My advice would be to fixate on getting sleep but I understand completely why you want to express and why you want to breast feed. Good luck -having a second was the best choice I ever made.


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