On several occasions, we have commented that breast milk is the ideal food for babies, according to its nutritional content. At first glance, breast milk is a mixture of fats, proteins, and sugars capable of feeding the newborn. However, there is much more, as it also includes other extra ingredients that contribute to children’s development.
During the first days of lactation, the milk produced by mothers is called colostrum and is essential to nourish and protect newborns. This milk is dense and viscous, with a yellow or orange color. During this first stage, the milk contains more than 1,000 proteins and amino acids that not only contribute to the growth and development of babies but also activate their immune system and protect their neurons. Also, it has high levels of antibodies, white blood cells and cytoblasts that strengthen the immune system and contribute to the development of organs, protecting them from diseases and infections.
Colostrum components also include more than 200 oligosaccharides, essential for the baby’s gastrointestinal tract, acting as prebiotics in the gut of newborns to prevent infections from reaching the bloodstream and reducing the risk of brain inflammation.
Between two and four days after delivery, the breastmilk intake increases, also boosting the amount produced by the mother. On the third day, the baby will consume 300 to 400 ml of breast milk every 24 hours, and by the fifth day, consumption will increase to between 500 and 800 ml.
Breast Milk Is Adapting To The Newborn’s Age
This transition milk is characterized by a more creamy structure in both color and texture, and although it maintains all the properties of colostrum, such as fat levels, calories, and sugars, especially lactose, it still contributes to the development of the nervous system, brain, and eyes of the newborn.
When the baby reaches four weeks of age, the milk is fully mature. This milk has lower concentrations of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Also, more than 1,400 micro RNA molecules regulate the baby’s gene expression and strengthen the baby’s immune system, as well as contributing to the remodeling of the breast milk.
At seven months of breastfeeding, the breast milk still accounts for 93% of the baby’s daily calorie intake and about a half between 11 and 16 months. Finally, it should be noted that the density and creaminess of breastfeeding also vary gradually during each feeding, being at first much less fat than at the end due to the displacement of the milk and the emptying of the breast.
Furthermore, after the first six months of breastfeeding, and even if the baby begins to eat solid food, breast milk still accounts for 93% of the accumulated daily calories, according to the WHO’s recommendations