How Important is Your Baby’s First Milk

Why is colostrum nature’s superfood for your baby?

Breastfeeding is nature’s perfect food for the baby. It’s the best way to meet your infant’s nutritional requirements, till he or she becomes 6 months of age. Additionally, it also offers you the opportunity to bond with your baby, and make him or her feel secure and loved. However, there are also a lot of myths surrounding breastfeeding and it’s important to know what is the truth so that you can do what is the best for your baby. For instance, many mothers are unaware of the importance of the first milk that their breasts produce, right after they give birth. Colostrum or the first milk produced has multiple benefits for your little one.

So, read on to know more.

Why is the first milk important?

The phase that starts from the day your baby is born and ends when he or she turns six months old is known as the period of lactation. These half a dozen months allow you to establish an extremely special bond with your child, through the process of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding babies can build their immune systems too. The mother’s first milk, known as colostrum, is a superfood for the newborn. This is a relatively sticky, viscous fluid, which is yellowish, and indicates the commencement of the breastfeeding period.

Though it may seem to be a thing of the past or a myth, several cultures believe the colostrum to be “unhygienic” or “harmful”. According to their traditions, the first breast milk should be discarded. However, discarding the first milk is completely unwise and illogical.

Hence, being aware of what colostrum is and the importance of colostrum is essential not only for the mom-to-be, but also for the rest of the family.

Here are the top things you need to know about colostrum. Make sure you read this.

  • Colostrum consists of abundant white blood cells as well as antibodies. This is essential for building a power-packed immune system in the baby, the impact of which stay for a long time. This milk is also believed to help build a tough stomach and intestine coating, which prevents microbial invasions and possible infections.
  • The first breast milk can also lower the risk of jaundice, which so many neonates are vulnerable to.
  • As he or she is new to life’s processes, your child’s digestive and excretory systems will take time to function independently. In this case, colostrum can act as a natural laxative and help your baby to pass the first stools with ease.
  • We know that every individual has a unique body type and nutritional requirement. And apart from colostrum, breast milk also caters to the nutritional needs of your baby in exactly the way it is meant to be! It has the ideal nutritional composition that your baby specifically requires, and that too in the most suitable form, to make digestion easy.
  • At no other point in life does an individual’s body undergo as many rapid physical and physiological changes as are observed during the first year after birth. And a little colostrum can kick-start a favourable growth and development pattern. Colostrum and breast milk can lay the foundation of a baby’s health, by providing nutritionally balanced and natural meals for a period of six months.
  • Colostrum production typically lasts for up to five days after delivery. Only about four teaspoons of colostrum each day can do the wonders you just learned about! Now you know why you have to make the most of this stage as a new mother. Following this phase, the mother’s mammary glands will produce breast milk gradually. Hence, “transition milk” (a blend of breast milk and colostrum) takes over for a while, and leads to pure breast milk eventually. This change in milk production coordinates perfectly with the baby’s changing stomach size and overall digestion capacity!
  • Breastfeeding is also beneficial for appropriate weight gain, enhanced IQ levels, early and easy recovery from infections and fevers, positive psychological and social developments, and reduced risk of allergies, intolerances, or undesirable genetic predispositions.

Breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother, as it can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, breast cancer, as well as help maintain a healthy weight.

You may require to breastfeed for about eight to twelve times throughout a day, or as and when your baby needs to feed. However, if the mother is suffering from conditions such as HIV, tuberculosis, herpes on the breast, etc., breastfeeding is not advisable. Also, children with a cleft palate, galactosemia, Down’s syndrome, etc. may not be ready for breastfeeding from the start. This is when breast pumps and infant formulae may come to the rescue, but only after your doctor recommends so.