Have you ever wondered how your baby gets all the required nutrients during the first few months when they are more or less dependent on breastmilk alone?
Breast milk acts as the only source of nutrition for your baby and is known to provide a wide variety of benefits for both the baby and the mother.
However, here’s something really interesting about breast milk that not many know. It actually changes with time and provides specific nutrients at different stages of the child’s initial years in order to support their growth.
That is the reason why breast milk is considered to be the best nourishment for the baby.
Three Types of Milk
The body starts producing milk during pregnancy and the process usually lasts for years after giving birth. However, the milk that is produced is not the same throughout the period. The milk is different in terms of quality and consistency.
The milk produced by the mothers can be divided into three different categories –
- Colostrum Milk
- Transitional Milk
- Mature Milk
Each type of milk has a different set of unique nutrients that are tailor-made to support your baby’s growth, such as –
1. Colostrum Milk
Colostrum is the milk produced during pregnancy and for the first few days after the baby’s birth. Ideally, colostrum is replaced by transitional milk within 5 days of birth. Colostrum is yellow-colored milk and has a thick consistency. It contains nutrients that are essential for the survival of the baby and also helps in developing the immune system of the baby.
Colostrum usually contains high amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It also has something called immunoglobulins which help in developing the immune system of the baby. These compounds are antibodies that are transferred from the mother to the baby.
2. Transitional Milk
Transitional milk is the next stage. It lasts for about 2 weeks. The milk that is produced during this stage contains high levels of fat. It has a high-calorie content, especially, higher when compared with colostrum milk. The transitional milk also contains vitamins and lactose. It is an important blend of nutrients that are essential for your baby.
3. Mature Milk
Mature milk is the last stage of milk produced and, surprisingly, much of it is just water. In fact, 90% of the mature milk is nothing but water. It is essential to keep your baby hydrated. Mature milk is also known to contain a powerful blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This not only supports your baby’s growth but also provides them energy.
Mature milk can further be divided into two types – foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is what gets released during the initial stage of feeding. It is mainly water and vitamins. Hind milk, on the other hand, is the milk that gets released after the initial milk. It contains high levels of fats, carbs, and proteins. The hindmilk is essential for your baby to gain weight.
Do breastfeed your baby, if possible
Research has time and again proved the importance of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. In the case of the child, it supports their growth and also protects them from critical diseases throughout their lifetime. In the case of mothers, it has a wide variety of benefits, however, the biggest benefit is the protection it offers from breast cancer.
Hence, try to breastfeed your baby as much as possible. Ideally, a baby should be breastfed for at least the first year of their life. Aim to only rely on breastfeeding for at least the first six months of your baby’s life. You can then slowly try to introduce a formula if needed.