What properties does breast milk exhibit?
LactationPregnancy and childbirth
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What properties does breast milk exhibit?

Breast milk is the best food for the baby, and its composition adapts to the needs of the little one. What are the types of mother’s milk and what are their properties?

Breast milk the best thing to give your baby

Breast milk is the best source of nutrients for the baby, which are essential for its proper development. It is the food best absorbed by the newborn and then the infant. This food changes its properties, adapting to:

  • the needs and age of the baby,
  • the stage of lactation,
  • time and length of feeding,
  • strength of sucking.

What is the composition of breast milk?

Breast milk is a food that cannot be produced artificially in any way. This is why the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the baby is at least 6 months old. Breast milk consists of:

  • water – provides the baby with adequate hydration and is necessary for the dissolution of the other ingredients;
  • more than 1,000 proteins – this is the building block, which supports the immune system and proper brain function of the child;
  • carbohydrates – breast milk contains over 200 complex carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, which act as probiotics. They also prevent infections from entering the bloodstream, lowering the risk of encephalitis, among other things.
  • fats – allow the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins that support the nervous system. They support the proper development of the baby’s eyesight and brain. Breast milk contains the enzyme lipase, which helps digest fats;
  • more than 40 enzym es – enzymes found in breast milk strengthen immunity and support the digestive system;
  • millions of living cells – their presence is priceless for the child, they strengthen the digestive system, among other things;
  • hormones – hormones are one of the most important chemical compounds in the body, which send information between tissues and organs, ensuring their proper functioning. Hormones also help form the bond between mother and child;
  • vitamins and minerals – ensure proper growth and functioning of the infant’s body, help build healthy teeth and bones. Breast milk contains five times more vitamins A, C and E than cow’s milk;
  • antibodies – there are five basic forms, which protect the baby against diseases and infections;
  • 1400 microRNAs help prevent or stop disease.

The proportions of milk components change depending on the age and needs of the baby.

Breast milk in the first few days after birth, or colostrum

Colostrum is also called liquid gold because it has a great deal of nutritional value for the newborn. Initially, the mother’s body produces little milk – 40-50 ml per day – but this is enough for the baby.

Colostrum composition and properties

In many women, colostrum appears after the 30th week of pregnancy. This food is rich in:

  • proteins,
  • chlorides,
  • vitamins,
  • leukocytes.

Colostrum has fewer fats and carbohydrates than whole milk, so it is better absorbed by the baby. This type of milk is only present until about day 4 after birth.

Transitional milk during the first two weeks after birth

Most often, there is an increase in milk production between days 2 and 4 after birth. On the third day after birth, the baby drinks about 300-400 ml of milk per day. On the fifth day after birth, the amount increases up to 500 ml.

Transitional milk is produced between 5 and 14 days after birth; this is the transitional stage. This milk has more fat and carbohydrates.

Mature milk

By the time the baby is three weeks old, the breast milk has become mature, meaning it is rich in:

  • protein,
  • sugar,
  • vitamins and minerals,
  • bioactive ingredients:
    • hormones,
    • growth factors,
    • enzymes,
    • living cells.

Mature milk responds and adapts to the baby’s needs. If the mother or baby is sick, the woman’s body produces antibodies to fight that particular infection, and they enter the baby through the milk

Main photo: Wesley Tingey, source: unsplash.com

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