Offering your newborn that precious liquid gold is both a treat and a challenge. This liquid gold is formally known as colostrum or first milk. Colostrum is a thick, yellowish liquid that contains essential nutrients, growth factors, and antibodies.
This milk also plays a vital role in nourishing newborns and ensuring their survival in the early days of life. However, its benefits extend far beyond just providing nutrition. Below, we take a closer look at this liquid gold and what makes colostrum so important for newborns.
Colostrum contains many essential nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are crucial for newborns to grow and develop properly.
Colostrum also contains high levels of growth factors that help with tissue repair and growth. These growth factors are essential for the development of a strong immune system.
Antibodies and Immune System Boost
One of the most significant benefits of colostrum is its high concentration of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
Newborns have weak immune systems, and the colostrum provides them with a much-needed boost of antibodies to protect them from infections and diseases. This is especially important because newborns are vulnerable to various illnesses in the first few days of life.
The NICU is one area where these immune systems are sorely underdeveloped and in need of additional care and nurturing. Mothers face many common breastfeeding challenges in the NICU, including not being able to offer colostrum to their prematurely born infant due to the infant’s weak muscle development or poor latching and suckling techniques. Providers must assist mothers in pumping or offering this liquid gold so their NICU baby can receive the valuable immune system support they need.
Protection Against Allergies
Studies have shown that colostrum can also provide protection against allergies. The antibodies present in colostrum help prevent the development of allergies by targeting specific proteins that can trigger an allergic reaction. This is particularly beneficial for infants who are at a higher risk of developing allergies.
A newborn might be at higher risk of developing allergies if a first-degree relative also has known allergies. This could be a parent or direct sibling who may have a food allergy, asthma, or atopic dermatitis, for example.
Colostrum contains a significant amount of probiotics, which are good bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance in the gut. These probiotics play a crucial role in promoting good digestion and preventing digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation. These good bacteria can also help develop and boost the immune system by creating a barrier against harmful bacteria and viruses.
Colostrum is a valuable substance that provides newborns with essential nutrients, antibodies, and growth factors. Its benefits extend beyond just providing nutrition and play a crucial role in supporting immune system development, protecting against allergens, and promoting good gut health. When you understand what makes colostrum important for newborns, you’ll stop at nothing to ensure optimal production and feeding techniques of this precious liquid gold.
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