So I said in an earlier blog about how good this stuff is... Here's a little more information:
Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mother during pregnancy and the first few days of breastfeeding. It is a sticky, thick substance that is ultra nourishing. It is low in fat, high in carbohydrate, protein(three times more than mature milk!) and antibodies (IgA). It is easily digestable for the little one and has a laxative effect - aiding baba to produce that first meconium poo to clear the system.
Only a small amount is produced - measurable in teaspoon sizes. But to aid mothers production of milk in the first few days it is advised by the La Leche League to feed baby 8-12 times in 24 hours. Over the following two weeks breast milk changes from colostrum to mature milk (foremilk and hindmilk), and the antibodies decrease.
The high antibody content of colostrum is currently being intensively researched. IgA is the antibody that presents itself to the newborn to protect namely the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, throat and lungs. The antibodies produced are specific to the mother’s environment and are targeted against the pathogens in the infant’s surroundings. It is also responsible for continuing the passive immunities that were provided in utero by the placenta, such as poliovirus and rubella.
The main function of sIgA, along with other immunoglobulins, is to "paint" the lining of the infant’s stomach and intestines. These surfaces are then able to defend the baby against viruses and bacteria by not allowing pathogens to adhere to them. Some of these incredible immunoglobulins actually attack pathogens and kill them. These components are important in fighting and preventing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants, which can be fatal.
Colostrum can also help decrease allergy reactions. Recent research looked at the content of colostrum in mothers whos children were at a high risk of allergies (due to the parents). They found that those with a relatively high level of omega -6 fatty acids (compared to omega-3), the children were more prone to cow's milk protein allergies. Those with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, their children were more likely to be allergy prone overall. The study came to the conclusion that a diet high in a balance between omega 3 and omega 6 during pregnancy is important to pass on the low allergy ability in colostrum.
Another interesting point about colostrum is that the child doesn't need high quantities of it (per feed). The child physically cannot take in high volumes. A day 1 old child has the stomach capacity of 5-7mls. At this time the walls of the stomach are fairly inflexible and consequently the stomach will spit up that which it cannot hold.
A 3 day old has the maximum stomach capacity of 30mls. Consequently small, frequent meals are needed.
A 7 day old has the maximum stomach capacity of 60mls. By now with breastfeeding the milk flow will just about be matching need.
For more info visit: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVDecJan05p123.html