Learn How Breast Milk Changes To Meet Your Little One’s Needs
You already knew that Breastmilk is a superfood you can brew in your own body. But did you know that, apart from providing nourishment, it also changes over time to meet the little one's changing needs? Fascinating, isn't it? That the glorious female body can work such beautiful magic.
P.S. – Fed is best! No matter how you choose to nourish your bubs, as long as their belly is full.
If you were unaware of this dynamic process or recently stumbled upon this titbit while scrolling through social media and now want to learn more, then you've come to the right place. Today, we'll take a deep dive into what factors trigger a change in breastmilk.
Here Are the Various Factors That Will Change the Composition of Breastmilk
1. The Growth Factor
During growth spurts, which occur within the first year of life, the milk supply increases dramatically to meet the baby's growing needs. Growth spurts usually last a couple of days and cause the baby to be fussy and demanding. At such times, the feeding will last longer and can occur within 30-minute intervals. It may appear to be a lot, but by acting in this manner, the baby signals to the mum's body that more milk is required. When the body begins to supply larger amounts, the feeding duration returns to the usual. The constant feeding also causes a lot of damage to the nipple, so it is always recommended to use a soothing nipple cream.
2. The Sleep Factor
Breastmilk follows a circadian rhythm, which aids in the baby's sleep cycle. The prolactin level in milk remains high in the morning, resulting in more quantity and a faster flow. It is because babies are more active during the day and hence need more to drink. Evening milk, on the other hand, contains a high concentration of the amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the baby relax and sleep better.
3. The Illness Factor
Breastmilk has the ability to fight off certain diseases. Yes! You heard it correctly! It can change if the baby is sick. Or if the mum becomes ill. According to research, while nursing, the baby creates a vacuum seal, causing spit to be sucked back into the nipple. This exchange provides information to the mother's body about the type of bacteria to which the baby has been exposed to. This then causes the mammary glands to produce antibody-rich breastmilk to aid in the fight against the illness. The same process of producing antibodies-filled milk will also happen if the mother gets exposed to any harmful virus.
4. The Food Factor
The food intake of a mum can vastly affect the taste and flavour of the milk. That actually makes sense if you think about it. But did you know that the specific flavor can influence the baby's taste preferences in later life? A 2001 study found that babies whose mothers drank carrot juice while nursing preferred carrot-flavored cereal over the plain ones. Makes you wonder how strong the biological connection between a mum and her child is. Doesn't it?
5. The Feeding Factor
It may surprise you, but breastmilk actually keeps on changing while the baby is being fed. The milk produced at the beginning of the feed is called foremilk. Which is lighter, more watery, and low in fat, calories, and other vitamins. But it contains protein and other nutrients. By comparison, the milk produced at the end of the feed is fattier, richer, and packed with vitamins A and E. This one is called hindmilk. However, it should be noted that both are essential for a baby, and the mother must ensure that the little one is getting a balanced feeding session.
Aside from the five factors mentioned above, breastmilk goes through three stages: colostrum, transitional, and mature. It happens within the first two weeks of the birth of a baby. So let's understand them in detail as well. Shall we?
Even though people call breastmilk liquid gold in general, the milk at this phase is officially referred to as "liquid gold" by doctors and medical professionals, the reason being its yellow colour and thick consistency. But it can also be white/orange and thin at times. Its job is to build up the child's immunity system as it is packed with white blood cells, proteins, and antibodies, like Immunoglobulin A (IgA), to fight off various infections. It is produced for only 2-5 days postpartum, which means colostrum is all about quality instead of quantity.
As the name implies, mums produce this milk while transitioning from colostrum to mature milk. It gets produced 2-5 days postpartum and can last up to 2 weeks. Because of the higher fat and lactose content, this milk is warmer and creamier, with a blueish-white color. During this stage, the mother's breasts begin to look fuller. And it is recommended to remove milk frequently by nursing or pumping in order to increase the supply.
By the fourth week after birth, the milk completes its transition into becoming mature milk that's high in proteins, lactose, and other vitamins and minerals. To meet the baby's fluid requirements, it also contains approximately 90% water. Even though the basic composition from this point on will remain stable, the milk will change somewhat when needed. For example, feed to feed or day to night, as we explained before.
What About the Color Change?
Yes! Breastmilk does, in fact, change color. It can change depending on the mother's diet, just like taste and flavor. Medication can also alter the color of the milk. Antibiotics such as minocycline can end up turning it black. However, the color changes are not cause for concern because the milk is still safe for the baby to drink. However, if it turns red, pink, or rusty, it means blood has entered the milk either from cracked nipples or rusty pipe syndrome (old blood from the milk ducts). In that case, it will still be safe for the bub, but the mum has to use a nipple cream to fix the broken skin.
Breastmilk is a wonderful gift that mums get to present their bubs with while welcoming the new little bundle of joy into the world. This life-sustaining liquid is complex and full of robust properties to help the child grow and adapt to the environment. So, we hope this write-up has helped you understand the inner workings of this miracle of a baby beverage. But remember! As important as breastmilk is, providing it to a child can be rough on the nursing mama's breast. So, having a nipple cream is a must. To ensure a smooth nursing journey, browse our selection of breastfeeding nipple cream and other nipple products.
– The Hermosa Co.