Kim@BirthingDays.com | 541-733-4002
What is colostrum? How does this superfood nourish your baby?
Have you heard of “Liquid Gold”? No, I am not talking about honey. However, that is pretty amazing too.
I am referring to colostrum, which is sometimes referred to as a superfood. This is your baby’s very first food. This superfood or special breastmilk is far superior to any superfood. Let me explain!
What is Colostrum?
Maybe you’ve never heard of colostrum, or perhaps you’re not quite sure what it is. Colostrum doesn’t get the same attention that breast milk does, but it really should—it’s truly the rockstar! This precursor to breast milk is stored and expelled in and through the breast.
It’s light yellow, gold, or sometimes clear in color, and is a thick, creamy liquid. It is packed with unique properties that protect and nourish your baby in his first days of life!
“The first fluid produced by mothers after delivery is colostrum, which is distinct in volume, appearance, and composition. Colostrum, produced in low quantities in the first few days postpartum, is rich in immunologic components such as secretory IgA, lactoferrin, and leukocytes, as well as developmental factors such as the epidermal growth factor.4-6 Colostrum also contains relatively low concentrations of lactose, indicating its primary functions to be immunologic and trophic rather than nutritional. Levels of sodium, chloride, and magnesium are higher and levels of potassium and calcium are lower in colostrum than later milk.” (source)
Colostrum is so amazing, that it is sold in adult supplements.
When will I start producing colostrum?
This will not be the same for every mom. Some start producing colostrum as early as the first trimester. Most women, however, start producing colostrum in their third trimester. If you are farther along in your pregnancy you can hand express (squeeze your breast) and you will be able to see this amazing liquid gold come from your nipple.
If you don’t see any fluid, don’t worry. As soon as the placenta is delivered at birth, your body will start to produce larger amounts of colostrum. (source) This makes perfect sense, as this is when your baby will need and want to start feeding.
How Long Will My Colostrum Last?
You will produce colostrum for the first 2-5 days after birth, Between days 3 and 5, your milk becomes whiter and more abundant. Many mothers call this the “coming in” of milk. The gradual increase in milk gives your baby and your body time to adjust. By days 10 – 12, you will have achieved full production.
Will My Baby Get Enough To Eat?
Your baby’s stomach is really small when they are born, it is the size of a marble, so your baby doesn’t really need a lot to eat to fill full. Colostrum is really concentrated, so a little goes a long way.
It is also worth noting that most moms produce only about an ounce within the first 24 hours. To ease your mind, this is actually the perfect amount! Your baby only needs about 1-1.5 teaspoons of “liquid gold” at each feeding.
Do I Need to Supplement?
NOPE! This isn’t necessary in most cases.
To determine if your baby is getting enough, you should base this on your baby’s diapers and overall mood. Your baby should have at least 6 wet diapers a day and if your baby is content, you are ROCKING IT!!
You should be nursing your baby at least 8 times a day to make sure your baby is getting all this amazing “liquid gold”.
Of course, if you have any concerns you should check with your midwife or your pediatrician. You could also make an appointment with a lactation consultant, who is sometimes better versed in the knowledge necessary to help you be the most successful throughout your breastfeeding journey.
PLEASE NOTE: Be sure to make your desires known to the hospital staff as they may supplement with or without your consent.
How is Colostrum Different From Breast Milk?
Colostrum is richer than breast milk and has a completely different nutritional profile. Colostrum actually has more in common with blood than it does with breast milk since it’s chock-full of white blood cells and immune-boosting properties. This “liquid gold” is also higher in protein, and lower in sugar and fat, so it’s an easy first food to digest.
Breast milk is designed to sustain your baby, build the immune system, and contribute to its development long-term. Colostrum, however, is more like, “hit it hard and fast.” One study even showed that it is much higher than breast milk in cell-defending antioxidants. (source)
Even if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding or you end up supplementing in the future, it is a good idea to make sure your baby gets colostrum. If you have any type of drugs during your labor and delivery, this can make your baby lethargic and impair immediate nursing. If your baby can’t nurse right away for whatever reason, you can always express by hand and finger feed baby. The benefits are well worth it.
- A newborn baby has a tiny stomach, which can only take small amounts, and colostrum is provided in small quantities.
- It is a concentrated (high in nutrients) liquid made especially for a baby’s needs.
- Colostrum encourages the occurrence of a baby’s first bowel movement, clearing the digestive tract of meconium (first dark stool).
- Colostrum also contains many antibodies and growth factors. The growth factors support the development of a baby’s digestive system, and the antibodies promote the immune system.
- It contains immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects the baby against infections of the throat, lungs, and intestines.
- It contains protective white cells, which help destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
- A new scientific discovery is the presence of a substance called pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI). This ingredient in breast milk is seven times higher in colostrum. It provides extra gut protection.
- Colostrum encourages the growth of good bacteria because of its ph level.
- It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Protection of the gut lining.
Rockstar Mom? Yes, you are!!!
Our bodies are amazing and designed to support not only ourselves but our baby’s life. Colostrum is truly a liquid wonder that helps us all be rockstar moms!