The Benefits of Colostrum

Colostrum is the very first milk produced by a mother when she has her baby. It is much thicker than the normal breast milk produced later and is usually a rich golden color. This first milk is produced for the first few days of the baby’s life. It is a very rich source of all the nutrition the brand new baby needs. It is full of fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, but most importantly of all antibodies.

The baby’s immune system is primed from this milk, and its first antibodies are obtained directly from its mother via the milk. This immunity is known as passive immunity and is necessary to stop infection in the newborn. This immunity is passed as immunoglobulins (antibodies) and white blood cells ready to fight off any invading bacteria.

Each mother’s colostrum is specific for her baby, it contains all the antibodies for bacteria the mother has been exposed to, the ones the baby is likely to come into contact with.

The richness of this milk means the baby doesn’t have to feed for long to obtain full nutrition and that gives the digestive system time to develop. The colostrum is easily digested and keeps the baby’s blood sugar levels constant. For nine months the baby obtains all its nutrition directly into its bloodstream from its mother, its makes sense that it will take a few days to adjust to this new form of food. The small amounts of colostrum taken at each feed are also ideal so as not to overload the kidneys and liver of the baby, each of which are learning their new jobs too.

Colostrum stimulates the bowel to begin working, and the passage of the first meconium stool. It provides the bifidus bacterium necessary for good digestion of breast milk and acts as a natural stimulant to the development of the gut.

Colostrum has even more benefits for premature babies; they need protection from infection even more than other newborns. Babies are born almost ready for life, and colostrum is the factor that they are waiting for to finish developing.

Between two and four days after birth the milk changes to transitional milk that contains more calories and then milk changes over two weeks to the mature milk necessary to feed the baby until is between six and twenty four months of age.