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Liquid Gold: The Many Benefits of Colostrum for Babies

The Asian Parent logo The Asian Parent 4 days ago Karen Mira
© Provided by The Asian Parent

Dubbed liquid gold, colostrum is oozing with unicorn and rainbow goodness. Yes, the benefits of colostrum are that good! Months before giving birth, your body actually starts producing colostrum, and this liquid will be the first thing that your baby will consume.

What is Colostrum

Colostrum is the very first thing that comes out of a mother’s breasts. It is the first milk that a pregnant woman’s body produces. It develops in the mammary glands of your breasts.

What Does Colostrum Look Like?

It is clear yellow in colour and is somewhat thicker than the actual breast milk. It is high in proteins and carbohydrates. With just a few tablespoons of colostrum, a newborn baby will be satiated.

What’s In Colostrum Milk

Colostrum is highly concentrated and nutrient-dense, so your baby’s stomach doesn’t need much to benefit from it, even in little dosages.

Colostrum is the name for the nutrient-rich first milk that your breasts make while you are pregnant. The breast milk changes from primary to transitional milk a few days after your baby is born. However, very little colostrum is still present in your breast milk for a few weeks.

Breast milk and colostrum differ significantly in several key areas, including:

Colostrum milk is rich in immunoglobins, which improve and maintain the health of your baby’s immune system. The amount of protein in colostrum milk is twice as high. The amount of zinc in colostrum milk is four times greater. Since colostrum milk contains less sugar and fat, it is easier to digest.

Image Source: iStock

Nutrients found in colostrum milk Lactoferrin

Lactoferrin, a protein, helps to bind iron. It is essential for the healthy operation of the immune system and possesses antibacterial and antiviral activities.

Antibodies

Colostrum contains a variety of antibodies, including those that help guard against bacterial infections in the digestive system. Like human colostrum, which provides passive immunity to the calf, bovine colostrum is abundant in immunoglobulins.

Growth factors

The two most common growth factors in colostrum are growth factors: alpha and beta. It also contains insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2. These are essential for cartilage and muscle repair.

Hormones

Although many hormones exist in colostrum, scientists do not fully understand how each one affects the body. Some, however, might impair the early development of the stomach lining.

Breastfeeding Colostrum Milk

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The three stages of breast milk are mature milk, transitional milk, and colostrum.

The first milk you make after giving birth is called colostrum, and it lasts for two to four days. Transitional milk starts four days after birth and lasts around two weeks. Mature milk: Milk that persists for at least 14 days after delivery or until you are unable to generate any more.

In 3-4 days, the transitional milk will replace the colostrum. Your breasts will feel tight, painful, and full as your milk production increases.

By now, your baby’s stomach should have expanded, enabling them to drink more milk at every meal. When your body has stabilised, and your milk production has become established, transitional milk becomes mature.

The placenta’s production of pregnancy hormones helps your body make colostrum. The hormone progesterone drops dramatically when the placenta separates from the uterus. In reaction to this drop in progesterone, your breasts start to produce milk.

After a few days, colostrum will change to regular breast milk so it should be consumed as often as possible.

In order to get all the benefits of colostrum, the mum should ensure that her baby is prepped for breastfeeding. As soon as the baby is born, the mum must immediately move her infant to the breast to suckle.

The first few hours or days of breastfeeding can get rocky. But as long as the baby learns to latch properly and the milk supply is consistently flowing, all the benefits of colostrum will be absorbed.

Is Leaking Colostrum a Good Sign For Breastfeeding

The breasts may start making milk during pregnancy, weeks or even months before the due date.

Your breasts leak during pregnancy because prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production after your child’s birth, ramps up while you’re still pregnant, typically in the third trimester. Leakage is common and not a reason for alarm.

If the milk bothers you, try putting tissue or an absorbent breast pad in your bra to absorb it. 

Colostrum Benefits for Baby

Image Source: iStock

Still, thinking if you should give colostrum milk breastfeeding a go? Here are some colostrum benefits for baby:

Colostrum milk fights infection

Your child can develop his own defence system against illnesses with the support of white blood cells, which can make up as much as two-thirds of the cells in colostrum.

White blood cells in colostrum produce antibodies that can counteract the effects of germs or viruses. These antibodies are especially beneficial in reducing stomachaches and diarrhoea for newborn children with growing stomachs.

It supports gut health

Your colostrum contains a significant antibody called sIgA in large quantities. This protects your child from illness by lining his digestive tract rather than getting into his bloodstream.

Other immune components and growth factors that support the growth of your baby’s intestines’ protective mucous membranes can also be found in abundance in colostrum. The “good” bacteria in your baby’s stomach are fed and strengthened by the prebiotics in colostrum.

Colostrum helps prevent jaundice

Since colostrum has a laxative effect, your baby will poop frequently. Meconium, or dark, sticky stools, are caused by all the food he consumed while in the womb filling his intestines, and colostrum milk help him pass it.

Additionally, regular defecation reduces a baby’s chance of getting neonatal jaundice. When your baby is born, the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body are in great supply. 

The breakdown of these cells is assisted by his liver, which generates bilirubin as a byproduct. Bilirubin builds up in your baby’s body and causes jaundice when the liver cannot process it properly. The laxative properties of colostrum help your baby get rid of bilirubin in his stools.

Colostrum milk contains vitamins and minerals

The inclusion of carotenoids and vitamin A, which are essential for your baby’s skin and immune system health as well as his vision (vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of blindness globally), gives colostrum its unique yellow colour. Colostrum makes up for the generally inadequate vitamin A reserves present in newborns.

It has colostrum benefits for adults too

Colostrum has lately been tried out as a supplement by adults. For instance, medical professionals might suggest utilising colostrum milk to address a range of digestive disorders, like:

Harm to the stomach caused by NSAID use in excess Helicobacter pylori infections have been linked to stomach ulcers. Bovine diarrhoea

If you are thinking about whether to breastfeed or opt for milk formula, it is important to note that nothing is better than the benefits of colostrum and breastmilk.

Are you convinced of the benefits of colostrum? Are you going to breastfeed your baby too? Tell us about your breastfeeding plans and leave a comment below.

Need Help? Don’t fret!

When in doubt, please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby’s situation.

theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.

MedelaMedical News TodayCleveland ClinicWhat to expectNHS UK

Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

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