Amazingly, your baby is ready to eat shortly after entering the world! It is an incredible sight to see a baby seeking out mom and beginning to nurse for the first time. While it may be assumed a nursing baby would be drinking milk, this would be incorrect! Your breasts may feel full and ready to go; they may even leak before you give birth. A women’s body actually creates a type milk specifically for her newborn called colostrum. This is a nutrient rich food source for your baby that prepares them for the milk that is on its way! We’ve put together some information about colostrum production.
Colostrum’s benefits are incredible. Colostrum is a special thick, sticky, yellow to orange colored milk that your baby will take in during their first few days feeding. It is the perfect balance of nutrients that are easy to digest as your baby transitions to eating outside your belly! Colostrum is low in fat yet high in carbohydrates, antibodies and proteins. It also works as a laxative, helping your baby in their early days of producing stool. By aiding in digestion and stool production, colostrum also helps lower the baby’s chance of getting jaundice. Overall, the colostrum benefits are incredible for newborns.
One incredible benefit of colostrum is the antibodies it provides. Colostrum contains a large group of living cells that are natural antibodies for your baby. Although breast milk also provides antibodies, the concentration in colostrum is incredible. The purpose of these antibodies is to adjust your baby to the “outside world” beyond your protected womb. When in the womb, the placenta provides your baby with an antibody called IgG. IgG works through the baby’s circulatory system within the womb, whereas the colostrum antibody, IgA, works where the baby is most likely to take in germs. IgA protects a newborn’s mucous membranes in their throat, lungs and digestive system. The IgA in colostrum helps transition your baby’s immune system to start fighting germs right away. Colostrum also contains white cells called leukocytes which can diminish disease causing bacteria and viruses. Colostrum is like a one hundred percent safe, far reaching and effective vaccine for your newborn.
Another incredible benefit of colostrum is its effect on the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. Colostrum lines a newborn’s intestines by acting as a sealant. The colostrum coats a baby’s still developing intestines, which is easily permeated, by sealing off the holes. This not only helps the baby as he begins to take in non-colostrum milk, but it also helps protect the baby’s gastrointestinal tract from outside substances. Colostrum is produced in a small amount, so it gradually helps increase a baby’s stomach capacity from 5-7 milliliter day one to 1.5-2 ounces by day seven.
Slowly, the incredible benefits of colostrum transition to the incredible benefits of “Mature Milk”. The transition takes about two weeks, but heavy amounts of breast milk generally “comes in” between two to five days after giving birth. You will notice your breasts fill significantly, considerably more so than right after giving birth. You may begin leaking or feel “engorged”, which are definite signs that your milk is in! This begins your production of “Transitional Milk”, which is high in fat, lactose, vitamins and calories. After that two week period, mature milk is produced. This milk is ninety percent water. The remaining ten percent contains essential proteins, carbohydrates and fats for energy and growth. This is the milk your baby will take in for the remainder of breastfeeding.
Overall, the body’s milk producing ability is incredible. A mother’s breast milk provides exactly what the baby needs, at the time they need it, and prepares them for the next stage of nutritional needs. Colostrum is the first milk in this incredible process, protecting and benefiting your baby in their important first days after birth.
I’m not pumping any milk. NICU doctor only wants him getting breast milk & I got a decent amount of colostrum the first night which will last him all day tomorrow but haven’t gotten anything else. Help.