Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

What is the composition of colostrum and what are the advantages for the baby who gets it?

Colostrum is made by the breast within the first one to four days postpartum. It has a high concentration of protein, especially immune proteins, and a lower concentration of fat and lactose. Colostrum protects the gut by coating and lining it and helps establish gut flora by affecting the pH of the gut. It also aides in gut closure (the gut is more permeable at birth). The passage of meconium is facilitated by colostrum, and the fact that it is thick and is released in small amounts makes learning to nurse easier.

What changes when my milk "comes in" and I am no longer making colostrum?

Fat, lactose, and total calories increase, while immune proteins decrease. A shift from more anti-infective properties to more anti-viral lipids occurs. During this time when the digestive system is still immature, there is less metabolic stress because early milk has the highest amount of digestible protein (90% of the proteins and 95% of the fats are digestible).

Is there any value in breastfeeding after six months? Does breastmilk lose its nutritional value at that time?

Breastmilk composition does change around six months. But that does not mean that breastmilk has no nutritional benefit for the older baby. It is just part of God's creation design since around that time babies begin eating some solids and getting their nutritional needs met in other ways. It is known that the composition of milk (as well as the supply) changes after the time that solids are added--thus the general term for breastmilk past the sixth month "weaning milk." There does remain a significant percentage of protein and fat calories in breastmilk, and other essential amino acids, vitamins (A, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Folic Acid, B 12, C, D, E, K), nutrients, etc. that will contribute to an overall nutritionally sound diet. What is known through studies is that babies that are continued to be breastfed continue to receive immunological benefits from the immunoglobulins, lysozyme, lactoferrin, complement, lactoperoxidase, macrophages, lymphocytes, interferon, "antistaphylococcal factor," and "bifidus factor" contained in breastmilk. Studies also indicate that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of gastro-intestinal and respiratory infections as long as breastfeeding continues. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of one year, and all lactation sources indicate that breastmilk can continue to be a significant part of the infant's nutrition past the first year.


BREASTFEEDING BASICS HOME

Affect of Maternal Diet Before the Baby is Born Benefits of Breastfeeding Birth Choices
Breast Compression Breastfeeding After Breast Surgeries Establishing A Routine
Flat and Inverted Nipples Formula Use Healthy Growth Indicators Jaundice Milk Supply
Plugged Ducts and Mastitis Pumping Sleepy Baby Sore Nipples
Storage Guidelines Things People Say Thrush Weaning


Please visit my graphics credits page if you like the graphics I have used!

This page and contents Copyright 2000 Laurie Moody