You may have heard the saying ‘breast is best’ and there’s good reason for it. Breastmilk is a dietary powerhouse for babies, full of beneficial nutrients as well as antibodies that help protect the baby from infection and inflammation. The composition of breastmilk is so ingenious it simply cannot be replicated in a formula.
Your breastmilk even changes within feeds and during different times of the day. The composition of breastmilk is also unique to each mother. That means no two women have exactly the same contents of breastmilk.
Contents of breastmilk
The beauty of breastmilk is that it’s a complete food for your baby. It contains everything your baby needs to grow and thrive the first few months of life, up to half the nutrients for the second half of the first year and a third of the nutrients needed the second year. Mature milk contains 3-5 percent fat, just under 1 percent protein and approximately 7 percent carbohydrates. In addition to these macro nutrients, breastmilk is packed with essential enzymes, antibodies, antioxidants and micronutrients like calcium, iron, copper and zinc.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is the thick, yellow liquid that your body produces the first few days after baby’s birth, until your breastmilk comes in. Colostrum has a high concentration of nutrients and is particularly high in antibodies that help build your baby’s immature immune system from the ground up. In fact, the antibodies in colostrum are so potent that this liquid was used to fight bacterial infections before the invention of penicillin!
Benefits of breastmilk
Breastfeeding can be a bit tricky in the beginning but if you can make it work, it’s well worth it. Not only is human milk the ideal food for babies, but many of the benefits of breastmilk are long-lasting.
Babies who are breastfed have:
• Stronger immune systems • Less problems with their intestinal tracts, like constipation and diarrhea • Fewer ear infections • Lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome • Better eyesight
Plus, children who were breastfed as babies have:
• Lower rates of asthma, eczema and allergies • Fewer cavities • Lower risk of getting diabetes • Lower risk of becoming obese