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What Exactly Is Breast Milk Anyway?

Breast milk is a powerful and amazing thing!

Did you know that your milk literally changes in composition from minute to minute, day to night, even summer to winter?

It will even continue to do so as the months turn into years!

This is because your colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, rich in antibodies, is brilliantly designed to meet the needs of your new born but then your body adjusts to continuously meet new needs with transitional milk, all the way to mature milk.

This continuous changing provides continuing nutritional, immunological and growth support for your baby cum toddler.

 Not to mention the many benefits you can reap from extended breastfeeding.

Crazy huh?!

So what is it made of?

It contains nutrients and bioactive factors (think hormones, growth factors and enzymes) needed for your infant’s health and development. 

Colostrum, produced in low quantities in the first few days postpartum, is rich in immunologic, thought to be colostrum’s primary function, as well as developmental factors.

Colostrum, your first stage of breast milk... 

There is no waiting for your breast milk to come in. It’s in. 

Colostrum is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins – all except K, minerals, and immunoglobulins… without the water

It is thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding, designed for a power packs meal for your just-born, who needs a few teaspoons full at a time… lots of times.

Exclusively breastfed babies do not need additional water – breast milk is 88% water and supplies all the fluids that you baby needs.

During the first few days after birth, colostrum is all that is needed to keep your baby well hydrated, as long as the baby is feeding effectively. 

This mean observed sucking and swallowing – with professional support obtained if necessary. Don’t give water.

Consider infant formula, standardized within an unvarying range of composition. It is manufactured with purified cow's milk whey or soy and casein as a protein source, a blend of vegetable oils as a fat source, lactose as a carbohydrate source, a vitamin-mineral mix, and other ingredients depending on the manufacturer.

It is the same factory produced feeding product... bottle after bottle.

The difference between your milk is, your milk is dynamic, and varies within a day of feeding, and throughout your breastfeeding life to support you and your children.

Who knew that this simple natural liquid could be so complex!

Of course, it is not easy to be a breastfeeding mother, and sometimes it is not our choice if we can or can not do it.

In any case, Mommy Knows Best is here to help. If you are struggling to breastfeed or looking for advice. check out our Facebook group. It is a community of new moms who support each other by answering questions that we all have as new parents!

Hope to see you in there!

Peace and Love,

Paula Zindler
RN IBCLC

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