Colostrum is the first breast milk produced by the mother. Basically, it is a substance secreted by the mammary glands during pregnancy and the first postpartum days, composed largely of water and protein, but also includes many of the nutrients that the baby needs during its first days of life.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is the first breast milk that the baby tastes. It is worth noting that although it is common for it to appear during the three or four first days after childbirth, it actually starts to occur much earlier, approximately from the second trimester of pregnancy. In fact, it is common for women to perceive a slight yellowish discharge during pregnancy that sometimes appears on the nipples, this is colostrum.
During the first 24 hours after birth, the mother’s body It produces the equivalent of two tablespoons of colostrum, but on the second and third days, this amount will almost double and from the fourth day it will begin to mix with the mother’s milk. At this time, the secretion of colostrum ends, but many of its nutrients will still be present in breast milk.
Physically, you can identify colostrum by its color yellowish, sometimes orange, due to its high content of carotenoids. Sometimes it may be slightly pink or brown in color because it has mixed with a little blood from the breast ducts. To the touch, it is characterized by a consistent and dense texture, which can sometimes be sticky.
Nutritional composition of colostrum
Despite if produced in small quantities, colostrum is a very nutritious food. It provides a considerable dose of protein, especially IgA and lactoferrin, as well as fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E and K, carotenoids and some minerals such as sodium and zinc. Instead, it contains less lactose, fat, sugars, water-soluble vitamins than breast milk, making it easier to digest.
Colostrum also contains many antibodies, anti-infective and anti-tumor agents such as prostaglandins, immunoglobulins, lymphocytes, neutrophils and other immunoregulatory substances that protect the baby from environmental infections and help to strengthen his weak immune system
Why is colostrum important for your baby?
One of the main benefits of colostrum is related to its protective action on the immune system, not in Vain is known as the baby’s first vaccine. This is because when ingested, the colostrum covers the wall of the intestines of the little one, preventing the absorption of the germs that enter his body for the first time. It is a kind of barrier that seals the interior of the gastrointestinal tract, protecting it from pathogenic microorganisms and in turn preventing inflammation.
Furthermore, colostrum acts as a natural laxative and it facilitates the expulsion of meconium, a dark, viscous stool made up of dead cells and secretions from the stomach and liver that lines the intestine of the newborn and is associated with an increased risk of jaundice. A study conducted at the University Center of the South of the University of Guadalajara found that in full-term babies, colostrum also helps prevent low blood sugar since it is responsible for regulating the glycemic index.
It is also known that the IgA protein that is transmitted from mother to child through colostrum helps prevent allergy to cow’s milk in infants, while protecting them from develop new allergies during childhood. Therefore, colostrum is especially important for babies with a family history of allergies.