We all of us give a lot of importance to breast milk and to the entire process of breastfeeding. There are also various reasons that prove that breastfeeding is very important for the newborn. It is also important in developing the first bond in between the mother and the baby. But, very few people know that the nature has given an invaluable gift to the newborn right at the time of birth. This gift is the first thick milk that the baby gets from the mother in the first few days. It won’t be wrong if we call this gift to the newborn an elixir to his or her life. This gift is called Colostrum. So, let us learn more about Colostrum.
What is Colostrum ?
Colostrum is like a thick concentrated fluid. It is often yellow in colour. Hence, it is also known as the liquid gold for the newborn. During the first few days after child birth the normal milk flow will not come. It comes only after 5 to 6 days. During these initial days what comes out of a mother’s breast is Colostrum. The colostrum is very low in volume. During the first few days babies do not feed a lot. The little amount of Colostrum coming out is enough for them.
When is Colostrum produced in the mother’s body ?
The time when colostrum is produced in the mother’s body varies from woman to woman. Some woman produce colostrum as early as in the third trimester and some do not get it till later. If you are in the last stages of pregnancy then, you may see a thick yellow colostrum coming out of your breasts when you squeeze them. Some may not get it till the baby is born. The expelling of placenta signals the brain for hormonal changes. These hormonal changes lead to the process of lactation.
Why is Colostrum known as elixir or liquid gold for new born ?
During the first few days of life, the baby does not need the quantity of milk, but, help in developing the immune system of the body. Colostrum does exactly the same. Colostrum is low in sugar and high in proteins. Colostrum boosts the babies immune system by providing all the different type of immunoglobulins, vitamins and antioxidants. These immune factors help in developing the baby’s immune system for the entire life. Colostrum helps in colonizing the walls of intestine with lactobacilli, the good bacteria for digestion. So, these are a few reasons why colostrum is known as elixir of life.
So, a mother should not take initial breastfeeding for granted. For the mother’s who are having difficulty in latching, they should either squeeze out the first milk and feed it to the baby or get a breast pump and bottle feed the baby. For the mother’s who are not planning to breastfeed the baby. I would suggest at least try and feed the colostrum to the baby for the first few days.
There are also a variety of colostrum supplements available in the market that are developed from bovine colostrum. The colostrum from the human mother and the cow has the same molecular structure and hence colostrum supplements are developed from bovine colostrum.