In the first hours after birth, the breasts of the mother will secrete colostrum, a thicker and semi-transparent milk of a yellowish color that precedes the actual breast milk itself. Among consistency and color, colostrum also differs from breast milk through other qualities as well, which also brought an additional name of “liquid gold.”
Colostrum is a liquid produced by the mammary glands before the occurrence of breast milk. It`s also known as the “first milk” and ensure the baby`s nutrition during the first few days of his life. Colostrum is a wonderful food for infants, and because it`s secreted in a very small amount for only a few days after childbirth, it`s essential for the newborn to benefit from its properties as much as possible.
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When Do You Start Producing Colostrum?
The organism will start producing colostrum from early pregnancy, around the weeks 12 – 15, meaning at the beginning of the second trimester. If this occurs earlier than this period, this may be due to the changes your breasts pass during pregnancy.
Your breasts don`t always leak when the colostrum starts to be produced, but it`s quite possible to notice a leak of yellowish color and a bit viscous liquid. Some pregnancy women might even experience such leakage during the second trimester of pregnancy, while other ones might experience it at the end of their 9 months. However, most women experience it around the month 5 or 6 of pregnancy.
No matter when it happens, you should get scared because it`s something completely natural. It represents the breasts preparing for breastfeeding. The leakage may occur sometimes on its own or may be the due to some stimuli as sexual intercourse or massage of the breasts.
At first, colostrum is thick enough in consistency and light yellow in color (rich in bet-carotene). As the due date is near, you`ll notice that it starts to become slightly opaque and discolor.
The Composition of Colostrum
Here`s what this milk contains:
- High protein values (about 3 times more protein than mature milk).
- Low sugar.
- A lot of antibodies.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Vitamin A.
- Vitamin K.
The Effects & Role of Colostrum during Pregnancy
This is still milk, even if it has a different consistency or texture than breast milk during pregnancy. It`s rich in antibodies and protects the infant from a lot of serious diseases for his health.
The amount of colostrum eliminated during pregnancy has no relevancy from the production of milk during breastfeeding. You don`t have to worry that if you didn`t have leaks of colostrum during pregnancy as other pregnant women did, you don`t have enough milk to feed your baby. On the contrary, doctors claim that some women may not experience such leaks during pregnancy at all and then breastfeed normally, while others may notice a few leaks.
Breastfeeding causes milk production. Therefore, when the infant is put on the breast, there are impulses send to the pituitary gland which releases a hormone called prolactin. This gets into the alveoli through the blood and stimulates the milk production. – Read more!
This is the first step in forming the milk flow reflex. It`s recommended to put the baby at breast in the first 6 hours of life. The longer the breastfeeding is delayed, the harder is for this reflex to form. This reflex, also known as the “let down reflex,” causes oxytocin secretion by the pituitary gland within 1 to 3 minutes from sucking.
It should be taken into consideration that normal secretion and smooth leakage of milk can be disrupted by the mother`s anxiety, insecurity, mistrust, stress and agitation.
Colostrum is considered a natural vaccine by the baby. The antibodies that colostrum contains serve as supporters of the immune system, because they allow for the mother to transfer immunity to the baby and, therefore protecting him from diseases. This vaccine is immunoglobulin A (lgA) which protects the most prone areas of the baby`s organism that can be attacked by viruses or bacteria. During pregnancy, the fetus receives the so-called immunoglobulin G (lgG) through the placenta (entering the circulatory system), but the 2 are quite different.
How Much Colostrum Does a Newborn Baby Need?
During the first few days of his life, an infant takes small amounts of milk, but they increases little by little.
Research performed on a large number of breastfed infants outline that averagely babies consume around ½ ounce of colostrum for every session in the first day of their life, 2/3 ounce for each breastfeeding session, and 1 ounce per breastfeeding session by 72 hours, when the production of mature milk starts. When the infants are 4 days of age, most of them are taking around 1 ½ ounce for each breastfeeding session, and by 5 days 2 ½ ounces or more.
When you are breastfeeding, it`s almost impossible to really know exactly the milk amount that your infant gets for each session. The most satisfying signs of a proper intake in the first few days will include the passing of transitional stools and meconium. Newborns don`t urinate much during the early days of their life. The production of milk should start by 72 hours after birth and begins with a change of fullness in the breast that is really noticeable.
Some reassuring signs that everything is ok are when you hear your newborn swallow and feel the breasts soften during breastfeeding sessions. By the 5th day of his life, the newborn should have mustard-like stools along with wet diapers each and every few hours. Infants typically shed ounces in the early days of their life, but they shouldn`t loss more weight than 10% of their birth weight. By 5th day, a newborn starts to gain weight – 1 ounce per day. By 10 days to 2 weeks, most infants have regained their weight at birth. – Visit this link!
Here are a few guidelines to help have an idea if your infant gets enough milk:
- The milk should “appear” in 2 to 5 days after birth.
- Normally, on the 2nd or 3rd day, the breasts will begin to feel somehow “different”: heavier, warmer and fuller.
- The infant should latch rhythmically for around 10 to 15 minutes on every breast.
- The baby breastfed not less than 8 times in 24 hours.
- As soon as the milk is in, the breasts will feel heavier and fuller before the breastfeeding sessions, and then softer after sessions end.
- Keep track of the bowel movements and wet diapers of your baby.
- For the first few days after birth, the newborn will eliminate dark meconium stools.
- During the first few days of his life, your infant may perhaps wet once or twice per day. Don`t worry! It`s completely normal.
- Most newly mothers experience some tenderness in their nipples during the first few days of breastfeeding.