Colostrum: Everything You Need to Know

mother breastfeeding their newborn in hospital

Often referred to as ‘liquid gold’ for the seemingly magical health benefits it has for your newborn, colostrum is the first milk that you’ll express in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and the first few days of your little one’s life.

Colostrum is different from mature breastmilk as it contains a higher concentration of protein, vitamins, and minerals, which provide essential nutrients for your tiny newborn’s growth and development. Here’s some key information about colostrum that every new mum should know!

How Much Colostrum Does a Newborn Need?

Newborns require very little colostrum initially, as their stomachs are tiny and can only hold a small amount of milk at one time. The amount of colostrum required may vary from baby to baby, but typically, a baby needs about 5-10 ml of colostrum per feeding in the first 24 hours of life.

Try not to worry about how much colostrum your little one is getting. It might not seem like a lot, but as long as they’re sleeping well and seem satisfied, they’re probably getting plenty! As your baby grows, they will need more milk, and your body and milk supply will adjust accordingly to meet their needs.

How Long Does Colostrum Last?

Colostrum is mainly needed in the first few days of your little one’s life, and gradually transitions into mature milk after this. While it’s needed after your baby’s arrival, there’s a good chance your body will start making colostrum while still pregnant! 

Your body should actually start producing colostrum in the first trimester of pregnancy, but you might start leaking colostrum as you get closer to your due date. After your little one is born, the amount of colostrum you produce will decrease over time as the production of mature milk increases and takes over. 

Typically, colostrum production lasts for the first three to five days after birth, and mature milk production begins around day three or four. It’s all perfectly timed to ensure your little one stays full and gets all of the goodness they need!

What Colour is Colostrum?

Colostrum is often described as thick in texture and yellowish or gold in colour. The colour can vary from clear to a dark yellow or even orange, depending on a few different factors that are totally normal. Don’t worry if your colostrum looks different from what you expected or how you’ve seen other people’s look!

When Does Colostrum Turn to Milk?

As your newborn continues to nurse, the colostrum gradually transitions into mature breast milk. Over time, the milk production will naturally increase, and the milk's consistency and nutritional composition will change to meet the baby's growing needs. The process of transition can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and it varies between mums.

Colostrum is an amazing thing for your newborn, so try to make the most of it while you can and save it for your little one! Most of the time, leaking breast milk during pregnancy is nothing to be concerned about. It’s just a sign that your body is gearing up for birth and preparing to feed your little one. For more information on colostrum harvesting and when to start harvesting your colostrum,make sure you check out our article!.

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