5 Fascinating Facts About Colostrum- Your Baby’s First Superfood
Colostrum, also known as “life’s first food,” is the primary form of milk produced by a mammals’ mammary glands immediately following the delivery of the newborn. This thick, sticky, concentrated substance is often yellow, clear, or white. It begins production around 16-22 weeks gestation, although this often isn’t evident to the mom-to-be since it typically isn’t easily expressed and often doesn’t leak.
Colostrum production isn’t copious- it’s totally normal to make only 1-4 teaspoons of colostrum per day, which is plenty for a newborn’s marble-sized stomach. Your body will continue to produce this nutrient-rich colostrum for 2-5 days before switching to “transitional milk” a combination of both colostrum and mature breast milk.
Colostrum provides your baby with immunity to the germs that are present in their surrounding environment and provides a protective coating within the intestines to prevent such germs from being absorbed into your baby’s system. Colostrum also kills off harmful microorganisms and protects from inflammation.
Newborns are born with a substance known as meconium inside their intestines. Meconium is the earliest stool of a mammalian infant and is composed of intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water. The infant’s reception of colostrum signals the gut to start working to expel this thick, black substance and make way for mature stools.
Colostrum is chock-full of white blood cells and immune-boosting properties, making it more similar to blood in composition than breast milk. Furthermore, colostrum is also high in protein and low in fat and sugar, making it easily digestible by the sensitive newborn belly.
A healthy gut is the foundation for good health and is easily compromised by certain foods, stress, and environmental factors. Thankfully, colostrum helps increase the surface area of the gut’s intestinal lining to combat leaky gut and restores the gut to normal permeability levels. Colostrum also contains immunoglobins that help support the gut’s microbiome and may promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut as well.