What is Colostrum?

By JustMommies staff

Colostrum is a special form of milk that your body produces for the first few days of your baby's life. It contains lots of nutrients and energy that your baby needs initially for his first few days of rapid adjustment to life outside the womb. Colostrum has a huge number of health benefits for your new baby.

Colostrum Production

The milk ducts in your breasts start producing colostrum at about the 16th week of pregnancy. Colostrum is produced in a low quantity, and your body makes just enough of it to last through the first few days of the baby's life. The baby's stomach is extremely small at birth, and colostrum is produced at about a teaspoon-sized amount for this reason.

Colostrum Benefits

  • Provides antibodies for the baby's immune system
  • Provides antibodies to protect the baby's throat and digestive system
  • Provides carbohydrates for energy
  • Provides protein for growth
  • Works as a laxative to help baby with the first stool (meconium)
  • Clears bilirubin from the body and prevents jaundice
  • Provides leukocytes to protect against viruses and bacteria
  • Provides tremendous benefits to premature babies (growth, immune system, etc.)

From Colostrum to Breast Milk

Colostrum lasts for three to five days after the baby is born. There's no set time for when your body will suddenly switch from colostrum to milk, but it typically happens within this window. Another nice thing about colostrum is that it makes the baby feel good. By the second or third day, your baby will associate this feeling with breastfeeding and will be eager to latch on every time he is hungry.