Importance of Colostrum
How is it different than mature breastmilk,
and is there any real importance to baby having it?
is the first fluid that is available to baby after birth.
It is usually very thick, yellowish, and creamy, whereas mature milk
is often thin or watery looking and may have a blue tint to
Many might believe that it is not overly important
for baby to receive colostrum. Some don't realize or believe
that colostrum is enough nourishment for a newborn.
Because of this, mothers are often urged to give their
babies supplemental feedings, which are totally unnecessary
and may result in problems in establishing breastfeeding.
It may help to know that a newborn's tummy is very
small, so baby doesn't need a lot of milk in the early days.
Many have probably heard that a baby's tummy may be about the size
of a golf ball, but actually a newborn's tummy is even smaller!
As per the
Colostrum (wonderful visual in this article!) at the
LaLeche League website:
"A 1 day old baby's stomach capacity is
about 5-7 ml, or about the size of a marble. Interestingly,
researchers have found that the day-old newborn's stomach
does not stretch to hold more. Since the walls of the
newborn's stomach stays firm, extra milk is most often
expelled (spit up). Your colostrum is just the right amount
for your baby's first feedings!
By day 3, the newborn's stomach capacity has
grown to about 0.75-1 oz, or about the size of a "shooter" marble.
Small, frequent feedings assure that your baby takes in all the milk
Around day 7, the newborn's stomach capacity is
now about 1.5-2 oz, or about the size of a ping-pong ball. Continued
frequent feeding will assure that your baby takes in all the milk he
needs, and your milk production meets his demands."
Colostrum is packed full of important
components, such as antibodies, leukocytes, (protective
white cells), long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein
(3 x greater than that of mature breastmilk), Vitamin A and
a fair amount of Vitamin K. Colostrum is richer in minerals
and lower in carbohydrates than mature milk.
Why are these things beneficial?
protect baby's mucous membranes (throat, lungs, and intestines),
which are the places most likely to come under attack
from germs in the fragile newborn infant
cells - (leukocytes) can destroy disease-causing bacteria
K helps protect baby against bleeding.
A is required for vision and is at it's highest the first
week following birth
helps maintain baby's blood sugar, esp. for those who
are at risk for low blood sugar
Colostrum plays a very important role in the
baby's gastrointestinal tract. A newborn's intestines are
very sensitive, and are permeable. Colostrum "coats"
the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier, which mostly prevents
foreign substances from penetrating, and possibly sensitizing
a baby to foods the mother has eaten.
Colostrum is also a natural laxative, helping to
move the meconium (the baby's first stool) out of the baby's system,
helping reduce the incidence of jaundice in the newborn baby.