You are going to have a baby? Well, learn well what colostrum is because it is one of the best foods that your baby will receive. It will keep it well protected in those first months of life.

Colostrum provides all the nutrients and fluids your newborn needs in the first few days, as well as many substances to protect the baby against infection. Its color and thickness are due to the fact that it is higher in these protection factors. (Compared to more mature human milk, colostrum is also high in protein, slightly less sugar, and considerably less fat.)

While you may feel like your breasts aren't full on the day you deliver, you already have enough colostrum to feed your baby. Your body will produce colostrum for several days after delivery, until the milk increases in quantity and becomes creamier or whiter, a period of time that mothers refer to as the milk "coming in."

Your child will be born with a sucking instinct, although it is stronger in other children than others. Because this instinct is intense immediately after birth, it is best to carry it to the breast for about the first hour of life. Suctioning the breasts not only stimulates them to produce more milk, thus beginning the establishment of a reliable milk supply, but it will also send signals to the uterus to contract and thus decrease the possibility of excessive bleeding after delivery.

The first feeding will also help you learn how to breastfeed. Placing your newborn baby skin-to-skin against your chest will help your baby smell the colostrum and want to latch on and start her first feeding. In fact, the initial phase of breastfeeding is a learning process for both mother and baby.

Some newborns show little initial interest in breastfeeding. Fortunately, newborns don't need a lot of fluids, and their mother's breasts contain only small amounts of the all-important colostrum. At this stage, it is more important for babies to feed more frequently than for longer periods of time. Because the breasts are not yet full of milk, they will remain soft and flexible after delivery, making it easier for the baby to learn to suck.

In these first days it is normal for the baby to lose a little weight. This weight loss consists of extra fluid built up during pregnancy. In the days after delivery, your baby's appetite and fluid need will increase. About two to five days after birth, colostrum production will give way to a larger volume of transitional milk.

Posted by: Healthy Children

Source: New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)

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