Breastfeeding and breastmilk have many benefits. Breastmilk nourishes your baby, it helps establish a strong bond with mom and much more. Breastmilk is also known as “liquid gold” because of how rich breast milk is.
Let’s begin with what breast milk is, it is a combination of carbohydrates, complex proteins, and fat. This milk provides vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and hormones. It also contains antibodies and lymphocytes from moms that help the baby resist and/or battle infections.
The composition of milk also changes, it changes from a single feed and well over the lactation period. What does this mean? Well, breastmilk is a living organism that changes based on what our precious baby needs.
For example, the baby has a mild cold or congestion? Breastmilk obtains this information from the baby’s saliva and reads it, it then changes the composition of itself to match what baby needs in order to help combat said cold or congestion.
Which sometimes may change the color of the breastmilk.
There’s a known case of bluish milk because the baby was going through a cold. Aren’t our bodies amazing?
The 3 Stages of Breastmilk:
Soon after delivery moms produce Colostrum. This is a thin clear or yellowish fluid and is the same fluid that may leak during pregnancy. Colostrum is rich in protein and antibodies that provide passive immunity as well as help the digestive system of a newborn to grow and function properly.
Colostrum will change to mature milk, up to five days after delivery. When this happens it will be watery and very thin, this is called Transition Milk. Later it may change in thickness and become almost creamy and this is known as Mature Milk.
These are not two different types of milk, breasts only make one type which is composed of a balance in foremilk and hindmilk. Due to the way milk is released, the first milk that comes out is the foremilk (less fatty) and after is the hindmilk (fatty milk). This is because hindmilk tends to stick to each other and to the walls of the alveoli, which is where the milk is made.
What is Let-Down?
Let-down is also known as Milk Ejection Reflex/MER. This phenomenon can be triggered by a baby’s nursing and/or pumping. At certain times the milk is suddenly released from the ducts becoming accessible to the baby. Now, this doesn’t mean you’re making milk faster, it’s just flowing faster.
Typically there are multiple let-downs during a feed but mom’s only noticed the first one.
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Sources & References
Adapted from the American Pregnancy Association, What’s in Breast Milk? Nutrients and Vitamins in Breast Milk, Kindred Bravely, 5 Fascinating Facts About Breast Milk; New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition ( Copyright ©2011 Academy of Pediatrics); ClevelandClinic.org, Benefits of Breastfeeding