During pregnancy your body starts creating colostrum as your breasts prepare to nurse your unborn baby. Some women begin leaking colostrum weeks or months before delivery. For first time moms who are unaware of what this is it can be a bit frightening and worrisome until they talk to their doctor or midwife who assure them it is normal. First time moms may start leaking colostrum during the third trimester, while previous mothers may start leaking as early as the second trimester.
Colostrum is a thick and sticky, yellow to orange colored milk that is created by your breasts to give your baby the nutrition he needs immediately after birth. It is low in fat, high in carbohydrates and has a laxative effect on the baby which helps him pass the first meconium stools that are sitting in his intestines. This also helps get rid of the bile and helps lessen the chance of jaundice in your newborn.
Not only does it provide nutrition, but also contains cells that act as agents in protecting your newborn against germs. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in the colostrum than it is in the later mature milk that your baby will receive when your milk comes in.
It is important if you plan on to nursing to nurse frequently and often during the first few days of your babies life so that your baby not only gets all the colostrum and antibodies he needs, but also so that your milk comes in strong.
Colostrum is also a 100% safe vaccine for your baby. Many parents will refuse to have the eye drops delivered to their babies after birth, and will instead use their colostrum to rub on their babies eyes in hopes of killing bacteria and preventing infection. This vaccine is referred to as immunoglobulin A (IgA) and is different from the immunoglobulin G (IgG) that your baby received from the placenta while you were pregnant. IgG worked through the baby’s circulatory system, but IgA protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.
If you do not start leaking colostrum during your pregnancy, it is not a cause for concern. Not all pregnant women leak before their baby is born and it is not known to have any effect on the success or failure of a mother nursing her newborn.
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