We all know that breast milk is the ultimate super food for our babies. But do you know why? Did you know that the composition of this liquid gold alters over time in order to meet the increasing demands of the baby?

Let us first see the general composition of breast milk.

  • Water – 87%
  • Lactose- 7%
  • Fat – 4%
  • Protein – 1%

Apart from this, it contains:

  • Antibodies
  • Hormones like growth factors
  • Immune cells
  • Enzymes to aid digestion
  • Approximately 800 strains of ‘good’ bacteria
  • Numerous vitamins and minerals.

Oh yes!! We got all the Magic 🙂

Breast milk composition changes over time as the baby grows.

    This is the milk produced in the first few days after delivery. It is the original liquid gold, so called, because of its rich content and its yellow colour.
    It contains high amounts of antibodies, white blood cells, important vitamins and minerals. Also, it has a higher content of protein that mature milk.

Did you know that colostrum acts like your baby’s first vaccination as well as the first laxative?

    This milk is produced from day 5 to 14. The fat, calories and lactose content increases. It still contains all the ingredients to maintain a good immunity.
    Milk produced 4 weeks onwards is the mature milk. From 4 weeks till the time we breastfeed, the composition of the milk remains fairly consistent.

A beautiful fact is that like our body forms antibodies when we fall ill. The same way, as the baby grows and starts putting things in the mouth for exploring, the quantity of antibodies in the breast milk increases to fight off any infections.

Breast milk composition also changes depending on the time between feeds. We all know the concept of Foremilk and Hindmilk. Our body does not produce two types of milk. In simple words, fat sticks to the milk making cells and the watery part of the milk flows down through the ducts, to the nipple where it mixes with the milk of the last feed. The longer the gap between feeds, more watery the fore milk gets. This watered down foremilk is high in lactose and low in fat.

Other factors that influence breast milk composition are-

  • Maternal age- Though this does not influence much, younger mothers are said to have higher protein content in their breast milk.
  • Maternal nutrition – Breast milk does mimic mother’s diet.
  • Time of the day – highest fat content is said to be around mid-day and lowest after midnight.

These facts surely convince us that breast milk is and should be the main source of nutrition till 1 year. Now, for any reason, if a mother cannot breastfeed her child, will it harm the child? Absolutely not.  Though no formula can exactly duplicate breast milk, it is still a better alternative till the age of 1 year.  Always remember “FED IS BEST”

Happy feeding!!

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Dr. Malvika Sharma

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