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Did you know colostrum is the earliest or” first milk” produced by your body for your baby during pregnancy? In fact, colostrum has many amazing benefits that often don’t get bragged about enough! So today, we’re going to go over all about the importance of colostrum for your baby!
In fact, you might notice your breasts begin to ‘leak’ colostrum before your baby is even born, crazy right?
Just another great way your body is working hard to prepare for your little bundle of joy’s big debut!
But first, the DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or medical professional. The content written in this post is not meant to take the place of medical advice. Please seek medical or appropriate attention from qualified personnel if you feel like you need medical attention.
Colostrum vs. Breastmilk – what’s the difference?
Colostrum is the earliest (concentrated) or “FIRST MILK” produced by your body.
Typically around your 2nd trimester is when your body will begin the process to begin harvesting this liquid treasure for your baby. Colostrum is packed with protein, antibodies, & is very nutrient-dense.
That’s why it’s the perfect first food for your newborn baby! It provides tons of nutrients and immune factors to them in such small quantities during those early days of life.
Breastmilk, on the other hand, is the milk that comes in following colostrum. Most moms notice their breastmilk comes in around days 2-5 after birth [SOURCE].
The components of breastmilk are a little different from colostrum, in which it contains proteins, fat, amino acids, oligosaccharides, antibodies, microRNAs and MUCH more!
Not to mention, your breastmilk is so unique, it’s content can actually change on a day by day basis to adapt to the needs of your growing baby! Pretty neat, huh?
Importance of Colostrum –>Can you pump out colostrum?
You can indeed pump or “express” out your colostrum before baby is born.
However, keep in mind any kind of stimulation to the breasts including pumping or expression can possibly cause contractions. So only do so with the guidance of your doctor and/or lactation consultant.
One of the many reasons some moms will express out their colostrum prior to baby’s birth is to harvest that liquid gold in the event baby is unable to latch or ends up being separated from mom.
This process is also referred to as ‘Antenatal Expression‘.
In fact, since my son spent a few days in the NICU and I was unable to try to nurse him, I was pumping & hand expressing as much colostrum as I could for him. After each session, my husband would take my tiny syringes of colostrum down to the NICU for him.
What is special about colostrum?
As briefly mentioned earlier, colostrum has some important immune factors packed into it which is vital for your newborn baby.
To reiterate, colostrum contains:
- High protein
- High Carbohydrates
- Low Fat
- High antibodies
One of the unique properties of colostrum for your baby is the way it’s able to provide a barrier within your little one’s intestines, protecting them from harmful germs.
It also has properties to kill & destroy dangerous microorganisms along with helping your baby to regulate his or her system by acting as a natural laxative.
To put it simply, babies who consume colostrum right after birth have a greater chance of recovering from harmful situations or preventing them in general.
In fact, according to one study done back in 2007, it went as far as to conclude that “colostrum was 3 times more effective in combating influenza in comparison to vaccination”[SOURCE].
How much colostrum does a newborn need?
Believe it or not, your baby does NOT need to eat much during those first few days of life.
I know to us it seems like it’s hardly anything, but since your baby’s little tummy is only about the size of a little cherry, they really don’t need much.
Below is an example of how much your baby will likely be eating over the first few days after birth:
- Day 1 – Baby will eat ~ 5-7mLs
- Day 2 – Baby will eat ~ 22-27mLs
- Day 3 – Baby will eat ~ 45-60mLs
- Day 4 – Baby will eat ~ 80-150mLs
How long does colostrum last?
If you plan to express and store your colostrum, freshly expressed colostrum can be safely refrigerated for 48 hours. Otherwise, it can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months in a standard freezer and 6 months in a deep freezer [SOURCE].
The importance of colostrum – RECAP
- Colostrum contains important antibodies for your baby
- It has unique properties to protect your baby from harmful bacteria or microorganisms
- It has laxative properties to get rid of meconium and help baby’s digestive tract work
- Feeding within the first hour of birth is crucial to ensure your baby receives all the benefits colostrum has to offer
★ Recommended Posts to Read:
>> Amazing benefits of breastfeeding you may not know!
>> Tips for exclusively pumping moms.
>> How to prepare for breastfeeding your baby before he or she is born!