Breastfeeding: Overview

Breastfeeding overview

Breast milk is produced naturally by women and provides the basic nutrition for a baby during the first several months of life. Breast milk has three different and distinct stages: colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk. Visit with a Lactation Consultant to learn more about breastfeeding and breast milk.

Find a Lactation Conultant in Your Area


Colostrum is the first stage of breast milk that occurs during pregnancy and lasts for several days after the birth of the baby. It is either yellowish or creamy in color. It is also much thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding. Colostrum is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that pass from the mother to the baby and provide passive immunity for the baby. Passive immunity protects the baby from a wide variety of bacterial and viral illnesses. Two to four days after birth, colostrum will be replaced by transitional milk.

Transitional milk

Transitional milk occurs after colostrum and lasts for approximately two weeks. The content of transitional milk includes high levels of fat, lactose, water-soluble vitamins, and contains more calories than colostrum.

Mature milk

Mature milk is the final milk that is produced. 90% is water, which is necessary to maintain hydration of the infant. The other 10% is comprised of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats which are necessary for both growth and energy. There are two types of mature milk: foremilk and hind-milk.

Foremilk: This type of milk is found during the beginning of the feeding and contains water, vitamins, and protein.

Hind-milk: This type of milk occurs after the initial release of milk and contains higher levels of fat, and is necessary for weight gain.

Both foremilk and hind-milk is necessary when breastfeeding to ensure the baby is receiving adequate nutrition and will grow and develop properly. You might alos be interested in taking a supplement that helps deliver vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are important for healthy and plentiful breastmilk production.

Get Supplements Now

Last Updated: 01/2013

Recommended Reading

You may find the following books helpful.

Your purchase supports the American Pregnancy Association

Compiled using information from the following source:

Olds, London, and Ladewig’s Maternal Newborn Nursing

Melloni’s Illustrated Dictionary of Obstetrics and Gynecology