The Importance Of Colostrum For New-Borns
The first milk that comes out immediately after the birth of a new-born is known as colostrum. All lactating mammals including humans produce this, as it is highly nutritious for new-borns. It is responsible for allowing the baby to fight harmful bacteria and parasites and achieve a healthy weight.
Colostrum contains carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins, antibodies and minerals that help babies tight the disease causing agents. The antibody levels found in colostrum is more than hundred times higher than that which is found in regular mother’s milk, Though colostrum lacks in volume, it still helps a new-born to expel the tarry first stools known as meconium due to its laxative effect. The high amounts of protective factors are the reasons for its thickness and colour. The first vaccination that your baby can get is colostrum as this actually works as a natural vaccine that is 100 per cent safe without any side effects.
Colostrum has great quantities of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody. which in a new-born is a new substance. When the foetus is still in the placenta, another antibody, called lgG works in it. The main work of IgA es to protect the baby from specific germs that attack the mucous membranes in the lungs, throat and intestines.
Babies are born with a few instincts and suckling is one of them. It is advisable to introduce the baby to the breast within a few hours after the birth as this will stimulate the breasts to produce more milk, building a reliable milk supply. This action also sends signals to the mother’s uterus to contract and this decreases the chances of over bleeding after delivery.
Colostrum is considered as the perfect food for new-borns as it is very easy to digest and is low in volume, measurable in teaspoons and high in concentrated nutrition. Colostrum also eliminates the excess bilirubin by helping the baby to pass early stools, freely. This in turn, protects the new-born from getting affected by jaundice.
The mother starts producing mature milk by the third or fourth day after birth. when the baby is breastfed often and early. The volume of milk increases and is whiter in colour and thinner in consistency. It is recommended to breastfeed the new-born at least eight to twelve times every day and if possible more often.
The digestive system of new-borns is very small and the colostrum provides nutrients to the baby in lesser volume but which is concentrated. Three to four days after the birth, the milk produced is thinner, sweet and watery. This meets the baby’s needs as it nourishes with sugar, proteins and minerals.
Colostrum provides both; nutrition custom-made to meet the needs of the new-born and large quantity of living cells, which protect the baby against foreign agents. The immune factors present in colostrum are much higher than in mature milk. Colostrum also plays an important role in the protection of a new-born gastrointestinal tract. The intestines of a new-born are very leaky and colostrum covers the holes by painting the tract with a barrier which blocks alien substance from penetrating and also sensitizes the baby to the foods the mother has eaten.
It has high content of white blood cells also known as leukocytes that help in destroying disease causing virus and bacteria, The conversion from colostrum to mature milk happens within the first two weeks after the delivery. During this shift, the concentrations of the antibodies in the milk decrease, but the volume of milk increases.
Premature babies respond better to human colostrum than the infant formulas available in the market, This is due to the presence of special components called growth modulators, in human milk that help the digestive system of a premature baby’s to adjust to oral feedings.
Bovine colostrum, produced by the mammary glands of cow and goat sources, is a universal donor of colostrum to humans. Historically, colostrum has been used for various illnesses and until the development of penicillin and other artificial antibiotics, that are commonly used for fighting bacterial infections.