Breastfeeding & Colostrum Benefits

Submitted by Nic on May 31, 2012

In the first few days after birth, your breasts produce a thick, sticky, yellowish substance known as colostrum. It serves as the baby’s first food and is extremely nutritious, being rich in carbohydrates, proteins and antibodies. Women begin producing colostrum early in their pregnancy. However, the breasts can only produce a small amount of colostrum at a time and within a few days it is replaced by milk.


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Many new mothers worry about whether the small amounts of colostrum produced is enough to fill their babies’ stomach. On day 1, a newborn infant’s stomach is about the size of a marble and can hold only about 5 – 7 ml of fluid. By the time a newborn infant is a week old; its stomach has grown to the size of a ping pong ball, able to hold up to 2 oz. of fluid.

Colostrum provides all the nutrients that your baby needs for those initial days.

In the first few days after birth, it is recommended that you breastfeed your child at least 8 – 12 times every day. Since the baby’s stomach is very small, it will quickly get full with colostrum which will soon be digested. In this manner, your baby can derive the sufficient benefits from colostrum.

Colostrum in Breast Milk

Your breasts will stop producing colostrum gradually. Assuming that you have breastfed your baby frequently from the first day onwards, you will notice a change in the color and consistency of the colostrum produced by your breasts. Your milk will gradually begin to get whiter and thinner and will increase in volume. After a few days your breasts will produce no more colostrum, only mature milk.

How Colostrum Benefits Your Baby

Colostrum is tailor made to provide your baby with all the nutrients its body needs to flourish in those first few days of life. The benefits of colostrum include:

  • Nutrient rich: Colostrum is rich in nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Antibodies: Antibodies from the mother’s body are contained in colostrum. These antibodies help to protect the newborn infant from germs and disease. One such antibody is known as secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). IgA protects such vital areas as the mucus membranes in the throat, lungs and intestines, areas in a newborn that are prone to infection.
  • Leukocytes: Colostrum is rich in leukocytes. These are white cells that protect the body by destroying disease causing viruses and bacteria.
  • Laxative: Colostrum has a strong laxative effect that helps your baby to pass stools easily.
  • Digestion: Colostrum helps your baby’s digestive system by helping to clear the intestines of meconium, a dark tarry substance found in the intestines of newborns.
  • Prevents jaundice: Colostrum helps prevent jaundice in newborn babies by helping the body to excrete bilirubin in the stools.
  • Antioxidants: Colostrum is rich in antioxidants which help support and strengthen the baby’s fledgling immune system.
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