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All About Colostrum

Also known as "liquid gold," colostrum is the first fluid the breasts produce, and is rich in nutrition and antibodies for your newborn. It is also easy for babies to digest and helps improve their immunity against diseases. Although only a small amount is produced, it is plenty for your baby. This colostrum gradually turns into breast milk over the first few days after delivery.

 

What Is Colostrum?

Colostrum is a thick, sticky, yellowish fluid produced by the breasts in late pregnancy and in the first few days after childbirth. It is often described as "liquid gold," as it is rich in nutrition and antibodies. It is perfectly suited for your baby's first feedings, and it gradually gives way to regular breast milk in the days after delivery to meet the increasing nutritional demands of your baby.
 

Contents of Colostrum

Colostrum is higher in proteins and lower in fat compared to regular breast milk. It is high in electrolytes like sodium and potassium. It is rich in fat-soluble vitamins. In fact, it is the high beta carotene content that gives colostrum its characteristic yellow-orange color.
 
Colostrum is easy for a newborn baby to digest. It is rich in antibodies, helping to transfer the mother's immunity against diseases to the baby. It has somewhat of a laxative effect too, helping your baby's digestive system spring into action for the first bowel movements.
 

Why So Little?

On average, during the first 24 hours, most babies take in about 2 mL to 10 mL of colostrum per feeding. This is a very small amount. It increases on the second day to 5 mL to 15 mL per feeding. This is still a small amount. Mothers and well-meaning relatives, friends, and sometimes even healthcare providers are sometimes alarmed by this very small intake. They worry that the baby is not getting enough to eat. But remember that a baby's stomach doesn't hold much early on.
 
On day one, a newborn baby's stomach capacity is about 5 mL to 7 mL, with not much stretch. Give a baby more than that, such as by feeding formula, and you'll likely get some serious spitup happening, not to mention the largely unknown but possibly negative effects that could occur from very early overfeeding. The baby's stomach capacity grows rapidly, to about 60 mL by day 7, coinciding nicely with the natural increase in breast milk production.
 
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