PARENTS

C: What Is Colostrum?

04/03/2010 21:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Colostrum is the substance produced by a woman's breasts in the late stages of pregnancy. Once her baby is born, the woman will have a supply of colostrum for her newborn that will last for around 48 hours, after which time she will start to produce milk for her baby.

Colostrum is a thick and highly concentrated substance that is high in protein and low in fat. It is a creamy looking fluid that is easily digestible despite its rich appearance. Alongside being packed full of nutrition, colostrum is full of vitally important antibodies.

These antibodies, known as immunoglobulins, strengthen and boost the baby's immune system, and provide robust protection against a range of diseases, viruses and bacteria. Colostrum also acts as a natural laxative and will help the newborn expel meconium from its digestive system. It also helps with the removal of the dead blood cells that are responsible for causing jaundice.

After approximately 48 hours, the woman will begin to produce breast milk, a much thinner substance which is also packed full of nutrition and immune-strengthening properties. The volume and content of the breast milk will be produced according to the baby's individual needs.

If a woman chooses not to breastfeed, she will be encouraged to provide her baby with a colostrum feed to boost her baby's immune system before introducing formula milk.

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