Nutritional value of breast milk

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Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

Slide6What is the nutritional value of breast milk and why it is important to choose breast milk over formula or top feed. Read more to know….

What is colostrum and why it is important?

Colostrum is the first milk  produce during pregnancy. Most mums don’t even know it’s there unless they leak a bit during their pregnancy. Mother’s  body starts making it about three to four months into pregnancy. Colostrum ranges from a clear-fluid like appearance in some women to a deep-golden thick and creamy fluid in others. Colostrum is full of antibodies and high in protein but has less of carbohydrates and fats. It helps build your newborn’s immunity and has a laxative effect that helps the baby  pass the tarry first stools called meconium. On an average, women will make about 50 ml of colostrum in the first 48 to 72 hours after birth. But this quantity is ideal for the  newborn since his/her stomach is barely the size of a large marble. As your baby’s appetite increases, colostrum is replaced with an abundant supply of mature breast milk.Slide4

What is Foremilk and Hindmilk?

Early in a nursing session, the breasts produce foremilk, a thinner milk containing many proteins and vitamins. If the baby keeps nursing, then hindmilk is produced. Hindmilk has a creamier color and texture because it contains more fat.Slide6

What is the nutritional content of breast milk?

Composition of human breast milk
Fat (g/100 ml)
Total 4.2
Fatty acids – length 8C Trace
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0,6
Cholesterol 0,016
Protein (g/100 ml)
Total 1.1
Casein 0.4
A-lactalbumin 0.3
Lactoferrin (apo-lactoferrin) 0.2
Iga 0.1
Igg 0.001
Lysozyme 0.05
Serum albumin 0.05
Carbohydrate (g/100 ml)
Lactose 7
Oligosaccharides 0.5
Minerals (g/100 ml)
Calcium 0.03
Phosphorus 0.014
Sodium 0.015
Potassium 0.055
Chlorine 0.043

What are the advantages of breast milk over formula milk?

Breast milk is good for your baby in many ways:

  1. It provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses, such as ear infections.
  2. It’s usually more easily digested than formula. So breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.
  3. It may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of your baby’s life.
  4. Studies show breastfed babies have higher levels of cognitive function.
  5. Breast milk may even help your child in later years, by reducing the risk of being overweight, and of developing asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
  6. Breastfeeding is good for moms, too. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer.

Is it OK to give formula feed to the baby?

Many moms choose formula for a variety of reasons:

  1. In case of twins it becomes necessary give formula in addition to breast milk
  2. In case the mom is working it’s convenient. Formula-fed babies can be fed by anyone at any time. It’s also flexible. You don’t have to fit pumping into your work schedule. Instead, you can simply leave formula for your babysitter or day care center.
  3. Your partner can help out with nighttime feedings and share that bonding experience with your baby.
  4. In case of a C-section, formula feed is recommended in the forst 1-2 days before lactation starts
  5. Whichever way you choose to feed your baby — breast milk, formula, or a combination of both — the most important thing is that your baby is well fed, well cared for, and loved. So ditch the mommy guilt!

How long can breast milk be stored?

Expressed breast milk can be stored. Lipase may cause thawed milk to taste soapy or rancid due to milk fat breakdown. It is still safe to use, and most babies will drink it.  It should be stored with airtight seals. Some plastic bags are designed for storage periods of less than 72 hours. Others can be used for up to 12 months if frozen. This table describes safe storage time limits.

Place of storage Temperature Maximum storage time
In a room 25 °C 77 °F Six to eight hours
Insulated thermal bag with ice packs Up to 24 hours
In a refrigerator 4 °C 39 °F Up to five days
Freezer compartment inside a refrigerator -15 °C 5 °F Two weeks
A combined refrigerator and freezer with separate doors -18 °C 0 °F Three to six months
Chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer -20 °C -4 °F Six to twelve months

To sum up exclusive breast feeding has to be done till 6 months of age, but if due to unavoidable circumstances if you are unable to do so do not feel guilty of feeding your baby formula or top feed. Most important thing is your baby is fed on time, burped and loved!!!

*Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Please do ‘★ LIKE’ the post if you found it to be useful.Your comments, suggestions, criticism and all opinions are very much appreciated. Please do write your queries in the Reply/comments section and I will try to get back to you asap.

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