Breast milk has healthy nutrients at the right amount that your baby needs during the early months of life. In order to provide the right kind of nutrient for your baby at every stage, your body keeps changing the milk mix. So, understanding your breast milk composition is crucial for your baby’s healthy development.
Three stages of breast milk
There are 3 distinct stages of breastmilk: colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk.
- Colostrum: This is the earliest stage of breast milk. It forms during pregnancy and will last for many days after delivery. It can be yellowish or creamy in color and is much thicker than the milk of the later stages of breastfeeding. Colostrum has plenty of protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that pass from the mother to protect the baby from infections. Colostrum is replaced by transitional milk two to four days after birth.
- Transitional milk: This is the milk produced after colostrum. It usually lasts for about two weeks and contains plenty of fat, lactose, and water-soluble vitamins. Transitional milk has more calories than colostrum.
- Mature milk: This is the last stage of breast milk. It consists of 90% water, which will help keep your baby hydrated. The other 10% is made of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats which aid growth and also provide energy.
Mature milk can be categorized into two types:
- Fore-milk: It is the first part of the milk flow and contains water, vitamins, and protein.
- Hind-milk: This part of the breast milk comes after the fore-milk. It contains higher levels of fat and is necessary for weight gain.
Fore-milk and hind-milk are both important in breastfeeding. This is why it is crucial to keep your baby’s feeding session long enough so that your baby receives the full benefits from both types of milk for proper growth and development.