Do you know the 3 breast milk stages? As a parent or soon-to-be parent, you should learn about these stages because breastmilk is what you would be feeding your baby with. It’s the liquid food source that a woman’s breast tissue makes to nourish babies.
Your body creates milk as a response to 2 things. The first is pregnancy, while the second is what experts call the sucking reflex. This reflex occurs when the baby sucks at your breast. However, a woman who was not pregnant can also produce milk for breastfeeding with the administration of medications, hormones, and stimulation.
Can you imagine that children get complete nutrition from breastmilk? How does breast milk even provide complete nutrition? Not just that but it also protects the baby against diseases, infections, and illnesses.
More, breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and child in many ways. More so, these benefits continue even long after you have stopped breastfeeding.
Breast milk production usually starts during pregnancy. But at the birth of your baby, there will be a little release of milk in the first 1 or 2 days. Don’t get yourself worked up about the quantity of milk. Newborns don’t need more than this little quantity.
The quantity and composition of your breast milk will keep on changing as your baby grows. This is because the stages of breastmilk change as your baby grows older. We will tell you all you need to know about breastmilk stages as you read on.
Breast Milk Stages
There are 3 breast milk stages. These stages are as follows:
This is the very first stage of breastmilk. That’s the form of breastmilk that’s present on the day you give birth to your baby. And it stays that way for some days.
The colostrum is usually quite thick and sticky. It is also yellow in color. But sometimes, its color is orange or white. It could sometimes be thin too. The good thing with colostrum is that it’s rich in antibodies.
In case you want to pump, take caution so that the colostrum doesn’t get stuck within your pump’s tubing because of its thickness. You might consider express breast milk by hand at this stage.
Your newborn’s tender guts can easily digest colostrum. It contains an abundance of protein. It is also low-fat. Ig-A antibodies and white blood cells are also abundant in colostrum. These help to protect your newborn against infections.
What’s more, colostrum also has natural laxative effects. So it prevents jaundice because it clears away meconium from the baby’s body. In case you didn’t know, meconium is the very poop from your baby. It’s usually thick, black, and tarry.
At this stage, your body will only make a little quantity of milk. But that small quantity would typically meet your baby’s nutritional needs at that stage.
Only women who truly got pregnant can produce colostrum. Induced lactation will not yield colostrum.
2. Transitional breastmilk
This stage is called transitional because it combines colostrum with mature milk. This happens because mature milk is just beginning to “come in”. This happens around when your baby is 3-5 days old.
As mature milk comes in, it would typically mix with colostrum. With time, however, the transition would complete and you will start producing pure mature milk for your child. This transition could take some days or up to one week.
3. Mature breastmilk
At this stage, your milk has changed over fully to mature breastmilk. This happens around 2 weeks after the delivery of your child. Mature breastmilk contains foremilk, as well as hindmilk.
When your baby latches on and begins to suck, foremilk would first flow out. This is quite thin and watery. It is very low-fat and low-calorie. But after a few minutes, hindmilk would follow.
Hindmilk is typically creamier and thicker. It has a higher fat and calorie content than foremilk.
Breast Milk Composition
The components of breastmilk at different stages can change. But in general, they all contain the following components:
1. Live cells
There are millions of these cells in breastmilk. They include leukocytes for immunity. There are also stem cells to support the development and healing of the baby’s organ. Breastmilk also contains all 5 antibody cell types, among other live cells.
2. Over 1,000 proteins
These proteins promote your baby’s natural growth and development. They also activate the baby’s immune system, as well as develop brain neurons and protect them.
As with other protein molecules, breastmilk protein is composed of aminos. You will find all the 20 basic aminos, and even more in breastmilk. They help nourish your child for proper development.
3. More than 200 oligosaccharides (complex sugars)
These sugars have prebiotic effects. They feed the good bacteria present in the gut of your baby. Aside from that, they also prevent the entrance of infections from the gut into the baby’s bloodstream. What’s more, they reduce inflammation risks too.
4. Over 40 enzymes
What are enzymes? They are like catalysts that help speed up the body’s chemical reactions. The enzymes in breastmilk are specifically for supporting digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption.
5. Growth factors
These support healthy growth and development in all of your baby’s body tissues and systems. These include the intestines, nervous system, glands, and blood vessels.
Breastmilk also contains an abundance of hormones. These are clever chemicals that send messages and signals between your baby’s organs and tissues.
Hormones ensure proper function and coordination across multiple systems. Some of them regulate sleep patterns and appetite. And some also aid the mother-child bond, among many other functions.
7. Minerals and vitamins
You should already expect to see this. They are essential nutrients for healthy growth, as well as the proper functioning of the baby’s organs. Minerals and vitamins also help to build the bones and teeth of your baby.
The list is much longer than we have up there. Scientists are even yet to discover all the components of breast milk. Remember that there are three breast milk stages. And these components fluctuate at the different stages to meet the need of your child for his or her given age.