There are so many things to learn about colostrum during your pregnancy. If you want to know more about the power of colostrum read our article.
Long before a baby is born, nature begins preparing his food supply. Around the 16th week of pregnancy, changes begin to occur in his mother’s breasts. Slight enlargement of the alveoli (the grapelike clusters where milk is produced) begins, usually unnoticed by the mother. By the time of baby’s birth, nature has prepared an early, very amazing food: colostrum.
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The Most Important Food
Colostrum is a very special food – one of the most important foods he will ever eat. Colostrum is the early milk produced in mothers’ breasts, specially prepared for the first two to five days before the more mature milk begins to be produced.
As babies transition into life outside the uterus, colostrum is the ideal food. In truth, it is more than a food – it is also baby’s first immunization. It meets the needs of a newborn baby exactly. Each time the baby nurses, he will receive colostrum in teaspoons – the exact amount needed for his small stomach and immature kidneys.
Colostrum looks different from later milk: It is thicker and stickier. Sometimes it is golden, thus the nickname “liquid gold.” It could be clear, or a different color, but it is always perfect.
Its composition is different from more mature milk, just as nature intended. It is higher in protein, minerals, sodium, potassium, vitamins A and E and carotenoids. Colostrum contains all 10 essential amino acids, the building blocks for the baby’s body. It is lower in carbohydrates, fat and lactose. Colostrum is extremely high in secretory IgA, a major immunoglobulin and anti-infective agent. It is also full of protective white cells called leukocytes, which have the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses.
Sometimes, because mother has not yet felt her breasts fill with milk or leak noticeably since the birth of her baby, she may worry that the baby is “not getting anything yet.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Inside her baby’s body, mysterious and wonderful changes are occurring with each nursing. Colostrum – even in small amounts – is a laxative, stimulating the passage of meconium (the thick, black first stools), thus decreasing the chance of jaundice.
To learn about jaundice in babies : What is the Newborn Jaundice?
It is digested quickly and stabilizes baby’s blood sugar. It protects the digestive tract membrane, building a barrier to infections. It establishes bifidus flora (the beneficial bacteria) in the digestive tract. Colostrum builds the immune system and contributing growth factors. Being a live fluid similar to blood, it is able to build and change the baby’s gut and prepare and protect it from all types of germs. Think of it as a kind of special sealant.
The Very Beginning
Interestingly, if the baby is born early, colostrum has even more potential for preventing infections. It is especially important for premature babies to receive the colostrum mother has produced.
Human babies are born unfinished, ready for the gift of colostrum. Their bodies are a work in progress, expecting colostrum and mother’s milk to complete the strengthening of their immune systems. Only on very rare occasions, and for medical reasons, should any other food be added during the first days of life. It is important to let colostrum do its work. Usually by the second day of life, the baby will be ready to eat more often, so it is important to encourage him to nurse frequently, as often as he indicates hunger.
Mother and baby are a finely tuned team, and as feedings increase, Mom’s body responds to the cues that baby is giving by producing exactly the right amount of milk. Using a pacifier or delaying feedings at this time will slow the production of milk and may cause problems for both mother and baby. Soon, the colostrum will begin to transition into more mature milk in increasing volumes. He will begin drinking ounces rather than teaspoons. Colostrum does not just disappear when the milk comes in – there will be small amounts of colostrum in the transitional breast milk for the first two weeks.
Babies who discover gold during their first week of life are rewarded with a lifelong treasure. Nature provides this rich gold mine. There is nothing finer than colostrum: the Mother Lode for a healthy beginning.
Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.