What is colostrum?

February 18, 2016

A guide to the benefits of baby’s first milk.

Colostrum is the first bit of milk your body produces for your baby before birth and for the first few days after birth. It’s thicker than the mature milk that your body produces later down the line and looks yellowish or caramely in colour. And it’s packed with lots of fantastic things like antibodies and immunoglobulins that help to protect newborns from bacteria and viruses.

This rich milk acts like a vaccine and also has a mild laxative effect on baby to help them expel their first stool (meconium) and therefore reduce the risk of developing jaundice. Plus it contains growth factors that strengthen the delicate lining of the gut.

You may find that your breasts begin to leak colostrum as your due date approaches; this is nothing to worry about and is just a sign that your body is prepping for the arrival of your little one.

Remember that your baby’s tummy is smaller than a marble when they’re first born, which means you don’t need to produce enormous amounts of colostrum. Just a few drops will be enough to fill baby up until the next feed.

Your breast milk will slowly change into mature milk after a few days and its composition and flavour will change depending on what you’ve eaten and what nutrients baby needs. At each feed the first bit of milk, known as foremilk, is high in water and lactose so it can appear thin. However, over the course of the feed it becomes thicker, fattier and richer – this high-calorie milk is known as hindmilk.

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