Colostrum: what are the properties and composition of human maternal colostrum. How much colostrum should the baby take?
We know how important it is to start breastfeeding immediately after birth. While waiting for the whipped milk to arrive and for the production of real breast milk to begin, the first, very precious food for the newborn is colostrum: a real super food. But what is the colostrum and what are its properties?
In this article
How does breast milk change?
The composition of breast milk is constantly changing. Contains growth factors, hormones, enzymes and other immunoprotective substances that promote adequate growth and nutrition.
There are four different types of breast milk:
- transition milk,
- mature milk,
- involutional milk.
The colostrum and the first breast milk product, starting from the middle of pregnancy (12-18 weeks) and is produced continuously for the first few days after the baby is born. It is thick, sticky, concentrated milk and is usually yellow, clear, or white, although it could be other colors as well.
The colostrum it is a living fluid, similar to blood in its composition. Contains over sixty components, 30 of which are unique to human milk, including immunoglobulins, high amounts of lipids, milk fats and proteins, high levels of beta-carotene and high concentrations of leukocytes – it is a species-specific, designed for humans, and every component has a precise function for feed and protect the newborn.
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The properties of colostrum
Colostrum is made up of immune factors, proteins, sugars and fats. THE benefits of colostrum for the newborn are numerous:
- provides the baby’s brain, eyes and heart with the right blend of nutrients to grow,
- contains high levels of proteins, salts, fats and vitamins for complete nutrition;
- it is highly digestible;
- helps prevent low blood sugar in infants.
Here it is 4 benefits of colostrum for babies:
- Colostrum is like a vaccine: as soon as the baby is born, bacteria begin to colonize on his skin and mucous membranes. Infants are more susceptible to the negative effects of bacteria and viruses, but colostrum offers protective immunity because it is rich in immunoglobulins, which produce antibodies.
- Colostrum “seals “the intestine“building a lining of the stomach and intestines defending the organism from attack by microbes.
- Colostrum is easily digestible and has a laxative effect that will favor the passage of meconium, which also serves to rid the body of excess bilirubin and prevent jaundice.
- Colostrum promotes it development of the brain, heart and central nervous system.
Colostrum and premature babies
The amount of some nutrients in colostrum it changes depending on whether the baby is full term or premature. For example, the amount of some lipids and fats in milk is significantly higher in the colostrum of mothers of premature babies: these substances are essential to help the underdeveloped infant “catch up” in terms of brain and retinal growth and development.
Research says colostrum helps build a strong immune system, creates a rather resistant lining on the walls of the stomach and intestines that prevents germs from causing disease and prevents inflammation. It also acts as a laxative to help expel meconium. It also helps prevent jaundice and eliminates harmful waste products.
How much colostrum should the baby take?
Remember that the stomach of the little one is the size of a marble, so they are sufficient at most 4 teaspoons of colostrum per day. Experts point out that in the first few days, when the baby has to learn to suck and swallow, it is easier to ingest small amounts of nutrition. The production of colostrum does not depend, as happens for breast milk, on the baby’s demand, but is regulated by maternal hormones.
The quantity requested by the baby will increase day by day, so from the beginning you can set up a breastfeeding on demand that will also favor the milk flow and the subsequent and regular milk production. Establishing a virtuous circle.
When does colostrum production stop?
The body will only produce colostrum for about 2-5 days after birth. After that, the production of a “transition milk“, a mixture of colostrum and more mature milk. At this point the baby will ask for more milk each day.
While colostrum is hormone driven, transitional milk marks the beginning of supply / demand production of breast milk: the breast is stimulated to produce transitional milk by breastfeeding the baby regularly, roughly every 2 hours.