116 : Come along with me for this ride on the colostrum train and you are going to see exactly why we get so excited about this life giving substance that is all part of human milk that newborns receive. By the time we are done here today, you are going to be as equally excited about colostrum and its benefits to newborns. You will understand why physicians are doing whatever they possible can to ensure that all newborns received colostrum, and in particular our most vulnerable sick and/or premature newborns have colostrum.
Colostrum is The first milk available to your baby. This food is in enough volume to meet the needs of your healthy full term newborn. Some think because the overall volume is lower than what they think it should be, than this equals not enough and this means your baby needs more food. This is so not true. Colostrum is a mighty fluid which meets all the needs of your newborn baby. It is packed filled with nutrients. Your newborns stomach is small, about the size of a small marble and an hold about 5-7 ml.
Colostrum is produced during your pregnancy beginning somewhere around the 4th month or so. It ranges from a light clear fluid to an orangey yellowish colored fluid and it is a thick and sticky amazing life supporting fluid. It consists of large amounts of living cells which help to defend your baby against many harmful agents. Your colostrum is heavily concentrated with immune factors. It is easy to digest, low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein and chock full of antibodies, making it the perfect food for your baby.
Human milk has been studied and resarched and we are finding out more It has richer in sodium, potassium, chlorides, protein, fat soluble vitamins and inerals. Less fat and less lactose than more mature milk.Now this is not all that it has, however, my point is, that colostrum is more of some and less of other nutrients, which tells us that the newborn has different nutritional needs the first few days, then they do as the days go on. As your baby grows and develops, your babies needs change & amazingly enough, your milk changes to meet their needs.
Your baby received sufficient quantities of antibodies through your placenta that is needed during pregnancy. These are called secretory immunoglobulin G or IgG. This goes to your babies circulatory system. Can you even begin to imagine how crazy good your body is already doing by ensuring your baby gets IgG.
Once your baby is born, it no longer has access to all these great and wonderful nutrients that are specially made just for your newborn. This is where you breasts come in. This is where your human milk, your breastmilk comes in. by feeding your baby breastmilk, you continue the passing on of nutrients meant for your baby to have for proper growth and development.
The next available antibodies your baby receives is through the colostrum. Here is where some more magic happens. The large quantities of an antibodies have a name and this is called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is a new substance to the newborn. This protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.
* Colostrum has an especially important role in protecting your baby’s gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable (leaky). Colostrum seals the holes by “painting” the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier which prevents most foreign proteins (from food the mother has eaten or from formula) from penetrating the gut and possibly sensitizing your baby to an allergy.
Once your baby is born, the amazing health benefits and antibodies to your baby continue through breastfeeding.
Colostrum has a laxative effect on their system. This is necessary as it helps them pass early stools, which aids in preventing jaundice.
Colostrum provides the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier that helps to prevent foreign substances from penetrating the gut. Ohhh, I love this next piece of information. When people want to know what is so special about colostrum. Why do you often hear that breastfed babies are healthier. Well, this early milk, the colostrum plays such an incredibly important role in this. At birth, a newborns intestines are very permeable, which means that it allows liquids to pass through it. The colostrum seals the holes by painting the GI tract with a barrier which mostly prevents foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten.
This is why you hear so often that breastfed babies are healthier. Human milk provides a barrier so that less bacteria can get to the baby and make them sick. Is this foolproof? No it is not. Is it like giving your babies several layers more of protection than not having any? Absolutely. Remember that Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease causing bacteria and viruses
In the first 4 days of life, it is normal for a baby to lose some weight. About 5-7 oz in 4 days is fairly normal. By Day 5, their appetite increases, their need for fluids increase, your supply increases from frequent feedings and with this combination and the change from colostrum to transitional milk that meets their needs, your baby now begins to put back the weight on and by 2 weeks of age should be back to their birth weight.
A few words about babies who are born early. During the third trimester, you pass vital nutrients to your unborn baby. When babies are born prematurely, they miss the opportunity to receive, absorb and store these vital nutrients. Premature babies have a digestive tract that is not yet fully developed. They are at greater r isk for getting an infection. The latest research shows that the absolute best, 100% best, medicine for your baby, hands down is your colostrum. Remember before when I said that the colostrum paints the digestive tract of a healthy full term newborn. Well just think if the digestive tract is not yet fully developed, how many more holes can be poked in it, allowing the bad bacteria and viruses in. Well, colostrum saves the day by painting their GI tract with life saving medicine. Physicians have said that colostrum is your baby’s first vaccine.
Infant formula from powder of cans or bottles only have about 40-50 ingredients and none of them are the life saving nutrients that colostrum can offer them. Once you learn some of these detailed juicy bits of information, it begins to make sense why physicians want babies to have the benefits of colostrum. This is the best way we know how to give our babies the healthiest start in life.
You heard me say earlier that colostrum changes to transitional milk by about the 6th day or so. The color and consistency from this point on will continue to vary from feeding to feeding because of the variations of nutrients at different times as well as the variations in other mothers diet. If you do not pump and your baby gets breastmilk directly from the source, you may never notice these changes. If you are a pumping mom, you will find it interesting to see the variations in color and to notice that sometimes your milk looks fattier or richer and you see it rise to the top in a bottle as the bottle sits there.
As time goes on, more money is put into research, more information is learned about the properties of human milk and just how rich and complex food human milk actually is.
Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC
Lori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter. She has spent much of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years. Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant. She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years. Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges. She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out. You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website: allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact
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