Breast Milk

We all know that breast milk is full of energy and it is the best nutrient rich drink that you can give your baby. Learn the ingredients in breast milk and how its composition varies from time to time. Also check out how you can increase the yield of your breast milk.

Last Updated: 23 October 2020

Breast Milk
Breast Milk
Breast milk

Breast milk has lots of energy rich and immune components that protect your baby against infections and illness. Breastfeeding has lots of health benefits to mothers as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and to continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months. It not only protects your baby against infections in the initial months but help prevent health problems like diabetes, asthma and obesity to your baby in the later stages of their life. For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Also breastfeeding can help the uterus to contract and bleeding to arrest more quickly after delivery.

Ingredients in breast milk

Almost 200 different components are present in breast milk. Most of the nutrients in breast milk cannot be replicated in any of the formula milk. The components may vary from one feed to another and it is customized based on the needs of your baby.  Moreover, breast milk is easily digestible than cow’s milk or formula milk. The components in breast milk are as follows:

Proteins

Human milk has two types of proteins 60% of whey and 40% of casein. This balanced proportion of proteins makes breast milk more easily digestible. There is a higher percentage of casein in formula milk that is difficult for the babies to digest.

There are more than 1000 proteins identified in breast milk that aid in the growth and development of your baby. These proteins help in activation of the immune system and helps in the development and protection of neurons in the brain. A specific protein called secretory IgA in breast milk protects your baby against viruses and bacteria. Also many other proteins in breast milk suppress the bacterial growth and some proteins in breast milk possess anti-inflammatory properties too.

Fats

Fats (Long chain fatty acids) that are in the breast milk helps in building your baby’s nervous system and helps in brain and eye development

Vitamins

The prenatal vitamins that you consume during your pregnancy and after delivery are very vital. The various vitamins and minerals in breast milk are essential for healthy growth and functions of organs.

Carbohydrates

Lactose is the main carbohydrate in breast milk that helps in reducing the number of unhealthy bacteria in the baby’s stomach and also helps in increasing the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Antibodies

Millions of stems cells and white blood cells are present in breast milk that helps organs develop and heal. Also there are five different antibodies in breast milk that helps in suppressing the viral and bacterial infections.

Hormones

Hormones help in proper functioning of tissues and organs.  Some hormones help regulate your baby’s appetite and sleep patterns.

Enzymes

The enzymes in breast milk helps in your baby’s digestion and aids in absorption of iron.

Stages of breast milk

Breast milk is categorized into three stages colostrum, transitional breast milk, and mature breast milk.

Colostrum

Colostrum is the first breast milk that is produced immediately after the birth of your baby. It is thick, yellow or orange and is referred to as “liquid gold” because it is highly important for nourishing your little one. Initially a mother produces approximately 40 to 50 ml of milk and the quantity increases gradually depending on your baby’s needs. Colostrum is rich in proteins and white blood cells which are necessary to fight against infections. Colostrum is a natural laxative that helps prevent newborn jaundice.

Transitional breast milk

The breast milk that is produced during 5th to 14th day is referred as transitional breast milk. From the 5th day you will start producing 500 to 800ml of milk. This milk is rich in fat and lactose and as the name suggests it is a phase between colostrum and mature milk.

Mature breast milk

When your baby is one month old, your breast milk is termed as mature breast milk. And this milk contains all the necessary components for your baby’s growth and development. Mature breast milk is a mixture of foremilk and hind milk. Foremilk is thin, watery and low in fat and as you continue to breastfeed hindmilk is produced which is thick, creamy and rich in fat.

How to increase the production of breast milk?

Approximately 75% of mothers feel they have insufficient milk production. But you can certainly improve the yield by following some tips.

The hormones that is responsible for stimulating milk production increases when you start breastfeeding more often. The more you feed the more breast milk you can produce. Make the habit of feeding for at least 8 to 12 times a day.

Try pumping between feedings to increase milk production especially when your baby missed a feeding, when some milk is left over or if your baby had a formula or bottle milk.

Breastfeed from both sides of your breasts so that your baby gets enough milk.

Have a balanced diet. Include foods that are rich in ginger and garlic.

Maintain a good mental health. Stress and anxiety have negative effects in your breastfeeding.

Breast milk is the best energy food you can provide your baby. If you have trouble feeding, consult a lactation expert.

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