Colostrum – the Superfood for Your Newborn
Within minutes after your baby is born, breastfeeding can begin.
The first food your breasts make is colostrum – a sticky, yellow fluid that contains everything your baby needs to transition to life outside your body.
Though all infants benefit from colostrum, preterm infants who intake colostrum from the mother’s breast have “significantly better health outcomes”(5) than those who do not.
Colostrum has many benefits for your newborn:
- Helps your baby build a strong immune system (contains antibodies and white blood cells).
- Creates a tough coating on your baby’s stomach & intestines to keep germs from causing illness.
- Acts as a laxative to help your baby pass meconium (the dark first poop).
- Helps prevent jaundice and gets rid of harmful waste products. Learn more about breastfeeding and jaundice.
- Gives your baby’s brain, eyes and heart the right blend of nutrients to grow.
- Contains high levels of protein, salts, fats, and vitamins for complete nutrition.
- Complete nutrition that your baby’s stomach can easily digest. It’s the perfect food for your newborn.
- Helps to prevent low blood sugar in newborns.
How Much is Enough?
It is normal to make only 1-4 teaspoons of colostrum per day. Your baby’s stomach may only be the size of a marble, although it increases in size each day.
The amount of colostrum you are making is just right for your baby. Be sure to breastfeed your baby as often as he or she desires to help your milk supply start strong.
When Do I Stop Producing Colostrum?
Your body will produce colostrum exclusively for about 2-5 days after birth. After this, “transitional milk” takes over – this is a mix of colostrum and more mature milk.
By the time transitional milk is expressed, your newborn’s stomach has begun stretching and can now intake more milk at a time.
Last updated: July 16, 2019 at 9:08 am
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Hanson, L., Korotkonva, M., The Importance of Colostrum, Breastfeeding May Boost baby’s Own Immune System. (2002). Pediatric Infectious Disease Jour; 21:816-821.
2. Dionna. (2010). The Composition on Human Milk Part 1. Attachment Parenting.
3. O’Conner, M.,(1998). Anatomy and Physiology: Milk Composition.
4. Spangler, A., Randenberg, A., Brenner, M., Howette, M., (2008). Belly Models as Teaching Tools: What is Their Utility? Journal Of Human Lactation. May 2008, vol 24; no 2.
5. La Leche League, International. Colostrum: General.