Skip to main content

Breastmilk: The Perfect Food

Breastmilk varies in composition from colostum to transitional milk to mature milk and each stage is perfect for your baby's stage of development. 

Colostrum can begin leaking during the last trimester of pregnancy and is produced during the first few days (1-7 days) after birth.  It contains a higher amount of protein and less fat than transitional or mature milk. It is thick and sticky and coats and protects the infant's stomach.  It is high in antibodies and acts as the first immunization for your baby. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the newborn, helping your baby pass the meconium stool.  It also comes in teaspoons and not ounces, making it the perfect amount for a newborn whose stomach is the size of a walnut.

Transitional milk is the breast milk that transitions from colostrum to mature milk.  Transitional milk is produced from approximately day 8 through the second or third week in most women.  However, when moms deliver a baby prematurely, transitional milk can last much longer as it is the perfect milk to help the baby grow in that stage of development.  Transitional milk includes high levels of fat, lactose, water-soluble vitamins, and contains more calories than colostrum.

Mature milk is usually present at about 21 days after birth and going forward. It can vary in fat content, as the fat of the milk received by the infant increases as the feed progresses.  This progression is also called hindmilk.  Mature human breast milk is 80% water and contains whey proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, hormones, anti-infective and anti-allergenic agents. These enzymes, hormones, anti-infective and anti-allergenic agents cannot be reproduced in an artificial milk. Human milk has a combination of amino acids that is unique to human milk. The type of protein and the finely balanced combination of different amino acids such as glutamic acid and taurine enable the baby to digest and absorb fats in their intestines in the first few weeks of life. The combination of ingredients in breast milk actually changes and matures as the baby grows older, to specifically suit your baby's changing needs. 

Each stage of breasmilk is perfectly formulated for your baby's needs as they grow and develop,  You are enough for your baby.  It is the main source of nutrition thoughout the first year.  After six months when your baby is stitting completely alone, if you wish to being solid foods, know that this is a complement to breastmilk and not to take the place of their superior food.  Nurse first and give a small amount of solids immediately afterward.  This way your baby doesn't fill up on anything other than breastmilk.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Feeding Expressed Breast Milk: Fresh vs. Frozen

Many moms are automatically freezing their breast milk each time they pump and retrieving frozen milk from their stockpile to feed the baby.  While this is ok for the mom who gives an occasional bottle, working moms should be giving freshly expressed milk whenever possible. 

     Before we list these factors, let us be clear than breast milk, fresh or frozen is immeasurably better for your infant nutritionally than formula; but to use the best at it's very best, we are explaining the changes that happen to frozen breast milk. 

     1.  Levels of pH are effected by freezing which in turn effects lipase which aids in digestion.  Lipase levels vary from woman to woman, so if you notice a soapy smell or metallic taste to your frozen breast milk, it may be especially relevant to you to give freshly expressed breast milk.

     2.  Bactericidal capacity of stored refrigerated human milk is at it's greatest within the first 48 to 72 hours of refrigeration.  (By the way, this is…

Why Fenugreek Isn't Working for Breastfeeding

The truth is fenugreek is a great tool to boost milk supply in most moms.  However, in the two decades that I have been helping nursing moms, I get this comment a lot, "Fenugreek didn't work for me."  How can it be that an herb with such great success stories doesn't work for a large number of mothers.  In most cases, the answer is in the quality, dosage or delivery method.

     Many moms buy Fenugreek at a local health food or grocery store in brands that are not stored or bottled in the best way to keep them at full potency.  Also, shelf life factors into this so buying from a store that doesn't cater to the largest market for Fenugreek, nursing mothers, will not have the best turn-around.  It is always a good practice to check the expiration date on any herb before using.  Fenugreek capsules work best when taken in a quality brand like Nature's Herbs or Nature's Way Fenugreek and in the appropriate dosage or combination.   The correct dosage is es…

Breastfeeding Pain Diagnosis: Yeast Infection and Thrush

I would love to tell you that breastfeeding is always easy, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  When you look up the word tenacious (te·na·cious) in the dictionary, I picture the nursing mother who has been tried by the challenges that sometimes come with breastfeeding.

Today, I am addressing a challenge that literally tries a mom by fire, yeast infections.  Yeast on nipples often exhibits itself as a burning sensation and sharp shooting pains in the breast even in-between feedings.   If you have pain only during the feeding, you need to address the latch.  Yeast naturally occurs in our bodies, but the overgrowth of yeast often as a result of oral or IV antibiotics can be a real challenge.  The good news is that it is fairly easy to diagnose and curing the overgrowth is manageable, especially if you know how to avoid a recurring incidence.

Lets start with the diagnosis.  As I said, the mother with yeast will normally have burning sensation on her nipples and sharp shooting…