During the first hours and days of breastfeeding, your body won’t actually be producing breast milk. It could take up to seven days after the birth of your baby for your breast milk to actually come in. Until that time, your baby will be getting colostrum. Colostrum is a very special type of breast milk.
Colostrum is the best thing you can possibly offer your newborn baby. It is tailored to meet his or her needs at the time. It is low in fat. It is high in carbohydrates and protein. It is also packed with antibodies to keep your baby healthy while his or her immune system is extraordinarily immature. Colostrum is the best first food for your baby for a number of different reasons.
One reason that colostrum is the best first food for your baby is because it is very easy to digest. It is a concentrated meal for your tiny newborn. It helps the baby have his or her first bowel movements, which are essential in the prevention of jaundice because they get excess bilirubin out of your baby’s system.
Colostrum is also the perfect first food for your baby because it gives them a number of different nutrients they need to begin the growth process. It not only offers them perfect nutrition, it also gives them immunity against the hundreds of germs their tiny immune systems are trying to deal with. Your baby is almost completely unexposed to germs during your pregnancy. During the first few seconds of birth, hundreds of germs attempt to bombard your baby’s immune system. Frequent colostrum feedings works as a vaccine against these germs. Colostrum contains immunoglobulin, which can help your baby protect against germs that attack mucous membranes like the throat, lungs, and intestines.
Another essential role colostrum plays occurs in your baby’s intestines. During the first few weeks of life, your baby’s intestines are quite permeable. Colostrum helps remedy this. It coats the intestines. This seals the tract, protecting it from the germs that might attach and helping the baby’s gastrointestinal system prepare to deal with the normal foods the mother eats. Moreover, colostrum is high in leukocytes, which can destroy any infections that are attempting to invade your baby’s immune system.
If you feed your baby appropriately during the first few days, you should begin producing normal breast milk within the first week after your baby’s birth. After that time, you will notice an increase in the volume of your milk production, and it will be both thinner and whiter than the colostrum. Colostrum usually appears as a thicker, yellowish substance. You will produce very little or it. In order to help your breast milk come in, and in order to provide your newborn with the tools to survive, you should nurse no less than nine times in any given twenty-four hour period. It is best to nurse as often as you can. These frequent feedings can not only help keep you from getting engorged, they can also help your baby learn to nurse.