What is Colostrum?

By Lisa Ketchmark

November 23, 2018

Hi my name is Lisa. I am a proud Mama to 3 inquisitive, energetic, and beautiful children. I am also very proud to be a Registered Nurse and The Mama Coach for Hamilton, Ontario. I thoroughly enjoy educating and supporting families, in an attempt to make parenthood a touch easier.

Colostrum is your babies first super food- and when I say super, I mean SUPER.  Your body produces this substance full of goodness in the second trimester and continues to produce it until your milk comes in- usually by 72 hours postpartum. So why is colostrum so special? Let me explain.

 

Colostrum is Easy to Digest

 

First of all, colostrum is the easiest substance for your baby to digest. It’s made for your newborn’s first feed while he or she adjusts to life outside the womb. It’s low in volume and fat but high in carbohydrates, proteins and antibodies. Your newborns stomach can hold about 7 ml, that’s why colostrum is jam packed with goodness in small quantities. Since your babies’ stomach is so small and colostrum is easy to digest, be prepared to feed often in the first few days. This is normal and good for both you and your baby!

 

Frequent Feedings

Be prepared to feed often until your milk comes in. These frequent feedings not only fill your newborn’s stomach with exactly what their body needs BUT it also stimulates your breasts to produce milk. So these frequent feedings, although exhausting, are benefiting you as well.  Usually by 72 hours your milk comes in, which is produced in large volumes and provides your baby with goodness in a different way.

 

Laxative Effect

Colostrum acts as a laxative for your newborn.  The ingestion of colostrum along with frequent feedings helps your baby pass their first stool called meconium. These frequent feedings and the laxative effect also help to prevent jaundice. Bilirubin builds up with the breakdown of red blood cells, the liver converts the bilirubin to a water-soluble form so it can be excreted with bowel movements. With frequent feedings, the colostrum helps the newborn flush these green colored bilirubin filled stools out of their system.

 

Immune Booster

Colostrum is saturated with many immune boosting factors. One being a secretory immunoglobulin or IgA. This is a new substance to your baby.  This immunoglobulin helps to coat and protect areas of your babies’ body that is prone to attack from germs, viruses, and infections.  The mucus membranes in their throat, lungs, and intestines, are now better protected. The colostrum and IgA, coat the digestive tract with a barrier.  This helps to prevent foreign substances from penetrating their gastrointestinal tract. Colostrum is also packed with white blood cells that help your baby’s body fight disease causing bacterial and viral infections.

 

Yes, all this goodness in those drops of thick yellow liquid that your breasts produce.  Your body is producing this substance for a reason. It is made for your baby to consume in their first few days of life.  It is easy for them to digest, helps them clear out their bowels by acting like a laxative, encourages frequent feedings and gives their immune system a much-needed boost.  

 

The key is to ensure that your baby has a good latch and is swallowing.  By doing this, we know that your baby is consuming the colostrum, reaping the benefits from everything above and that your breasts are getting properly stimulated while preventing your nipples from getting sore and cracked.  Please, if you need help with breastfeeding, ask a healthcare professional. Do no struggle alone.

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