Breastfeeding Myth: Colostrum

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Myth:  Babies need to have formula the first few days after birth because the milk hasn’t “come in” yet.

Mythbuster:
Your body is preparing to breastfeed your baby even before she is born! Around the 5th month of pregnancy, your breasts produce a yellow, nutrient-rich fluid called colostrum. It is available as soon as your baby is born. Colostrum is the perfect first food for premature as well as full-term infants.

Right after your baby’s birth, the sudden drop in progesterone tells your body there is a baby to feed and it switches gears to begin producing milk. The transition from colostrum to mature milk is a gradual process.  In the 2-3 weeks following delivery, you will notice your milk becoming thinner, less yellow and more “milky.” You will also notice your breasts becoming heavier and your baby gulping noisily as she breastfeeds.

Immediately after birth, however, your baby is not ready for big feedings. Her stomach can only hold 2-3 teaspoons at a time.  In addition, she is learning to suck, swallow and breath rhythmically. Colostrum is delivered to her in small amounts. Perfect for the new baby learning to breastfeed.

Your brand new baby may want to breastfeed very frequently—especially the 2nd day of life. Frequent feedings enable her to get many small doses of colostrum and encourage a faster transition to mature milk. As the milk volume increases, your baby will be satisfied longer between feedings.

Related article:  “Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?”

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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