What is colostrum?
After giving birth, the mother will carry out an early initiation of breastfeeding of approximately 1 hour to give breast milk to the baby. At the beginning of breastfeeding, the mother will be releasing colostrum. This fluid looks thicker and comes out only for the first 3 days. If you only think that giving baby colostrum is normal, then you should begin to change that notion, since the colostrum in infants does not only provide a single benefit in the form of immunity. What colostrum is, what substances are formed, and what the benefits for babies are. Let’s find out more below.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is the first breast milk produced by the breast at the end of pregnancy and several days after the baby is born. Compared to normal breast milk, colostrum tends to be more yellowish thick. In the last weeks of pregnancy until the time for giving birth, colostrum has been produced by the body. This colostrum contains high protein and low fat. Digestion of newborns is not perfect yet. To adapt these conditions, the first milk consumed is concentrated (a small volume but full of nutrients) that is rich in protein and vitamin A but low in carbohydrates, fat, and low in potassium content. According to the WHO, colostrum is the first and the most complete and perfect ingredient so that it is very good as a baby’s first food.
The cleansing process by consuming breast milk with colostrum is also useful to reduce excess bilirubin. This usually causes the baby to be “yellow” after birth (neonatal jaundice). It occurs because of the incomplete mechanism of regulating the number of red blood cells in the baby’s body. Colostrum has also antibody substances called immunoglobulins.
The process of forming antibodies in infants starts from the digestive system. One component of immunoglobulin is absorbed by epithelial tissue in the intestine and produces a layer of mucus. This layer serves to protect the intestine when digesting food. Besides having antibodies, colostrum has growth factors that function to complete the growth and development of infants to adulthood.
Colostrum not only helps increase a baby’s immunity and fulfills his nutritional needs. But there are also several other benefits of colostrum for the baby:
- Easy to digest. Colostrum is suitable for the baby’s first meal because it is very easy to digest.
- Helps digestion of babies to excrete meconium (baby’s first stool)
- Prevent infection. Colostrum is rich in white blood cells which will fight bacterial and viral infections. Giving colostrum will prevent the risk of getting the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other infectious diseases.
- Prevents babies from experiencing jaundice, because it serves to help the baby’s body reducing the bilirubin.
- Providing nutrients needed for the development and growth of the baby’s brain, eyes, and heart.
- Helps the development of the baby’s digestive organs. Colostrum will prepare its digestive system to be able to digest the milk (will be consumed next).
Should after giving birth the mother will carry out an early initiation of breastfeeding in baby so the baby will immediately consume colostrum. However, several conditions can hinder the process, for example, the mother or baby must be treated separately after delivery. This can be overcome by way of milking before labor. Milking of colostrum can be done in the last weeks of pregnancy or weeks before labor.
We are going to talk more about colostrum. The conditions that require pregnant women to milk colostrum earlier before giving birth as below.
- Mothers suffer from diabetes during pregnancy, because babies born to mothers with diabetes tend to have a risk of suffering from low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) 24 hours after birth. They need colostrum immediately to maintain blood sugar levels.
- Mother gives birth by cesarean section. The early initiation of breastfeeding may still be possible, but most likely the mother and baby will be treated separately for a while.
- Twin giving birth, so it will be quite difficult for mothers to breastfeed both at the same time.
- Babies born prematurely or experience abnormalities such as heart complications or congenital abnormalities (such as down syndrome)
- Mothers suffer from breast hypoplasia (a condition in which the breasts do not develop properly and result in less or no milk-producing glands in the breast).
- Babies experience abnormalities in the mouth that have been detected since pregnancy
- Mothers suffer from breast hypoplasia (a condition that causes breast growth to be limited) or if the mother has previously had breast surgery
- If there are genetical allergic to cow’s milk protein or diabetes type 1, then the mother may want to minimize the use of formula milk. It’s good for the mother to prepare colostrum first so that after delivery the baby can immediately be given colostrum.
But the mother should first consult with a doctor before milking colostrum.
Supporting the baby’s health
Giving him colostrum is done to support the health of the baby early. In addition to protecting her from the start by breastfeeding her immediately with colostrum, she can also start taking care of the baby’s health. The way is of course by paying attention to growth and consumption and consume the right and healthy intake during pregnancy. So don’t hesitate to give it exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, since only breast milk is the best food.
Colostrum was considered safe and had no side effects. However, long-term consumption of colostrum can cause anxiety, logorrhea, and insomnia. All these effects will disappear after a few days.
Colostrum is the first milk that will gradually mature after a few weeks after labor and eventually change its color (like the common characteristic of breast milk). Usually, during this period, the antibody substances decrease but the volume of milk produced increases. Fortunately, the protection function of the disease still exists. The more milk the baby consumes from his mother, the higher the level of immune protection taken.
So, colostrum is highly recommended to be given to babies and continued with exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months. After 6 months, the new mother can give the child additional food to balance the nutritional substances needed. Colostrum contains large amounts of living cells that are effective in protecting babies from pathogens. So colostrum can be used to as the baby’s first vaccination.
Happy breastfeeding, and give the best for your baby, moms!