Colostrum is a yellowish liquid that comes out first before breast milk. In the last weeks of pregnancy until the time for giving birth, colostrum has been produced by the mother's body. WHO recommends giving colostrum as the first food for newborns because of its ideal composition. Colostrum not only meets the nutritional needs of newborns, but also protects the baby because it is activated by the immune system.
The function of colostrum for baby's health
- Helps strengthen the immune system of a newborn baby.
- Forms a layer on the baby's stomach that can prevent sticking to pathogens that cause disease such as bacteria and viruses.
- Laxative, helps digest the baby to excrete meconium (the first dark stool)
- Helps prevent jaundice in infants by removing harmful residual substances from the baby's body.
- Provides adequate and needed nutrients for babies for the development and growth of the baby's brain, eyes and heart.
- Has a high protein content and is of high quality, low in sugar, rich in good fats and vitamins.
- The amount of nutrient content is right and suitable for babies so that it is easily digested by the stomach of a newborn baby.
What are the ingredients in colostrum?
Colostrum contains high levels of protein, fat soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that babies get from their mothers and provide passive immunity to babies. This passive immunity can protect babies from the dangers of diseases caused by bacteria or viruses. Colostrum is also naturally laxative, which helps facilitate the digestion of the baby.
One type of immunoglobulin found in colostrum is immunoglobulin A. The type of immunoglobulin A found in colostrum is called secretory IgA (S-IgA) because it has proteins that protect these immunoglobulin compounds from digestive enzymes. Immunoglobulin A serves to provide passive or active immunity or immunity in newborns. The specific function of immunoglobulin A is to protect the mucosal surface and prevent external pathogens (such as bacteria and viruses) from attaching to the mucosal surface.
Immunoglobulin A works on the digestive system especially to protect babies from gastrointestinal infections. That's why immunoglobulin A molecules have a special defense against digestive enzymes, so they can work in the digestive tract mucosa. Besides secretory IgA along with immunoglobulin M can protect babies from GI autoantigen which can cause autoimmune diseases. Those who suffer from immunoglobulin A deficiency are at risk of suffering from digestive and autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease and infections and inflammation in the digestive organs.
What if the baby cannot immediately receive colostrum after birth?
Although ideally the baby is given direct colostrum or a few hours immediately after birth, there are some conditions that require the mother or baby to receive treatment after the birth process so that the baby cannot immediately receive colostrum or breast milk. Or there are certain medical conditions that cause the mother to be unable to immediately breastfeed her baby. This can be dealt with by milking before giving birth.
Milking of colostrum before delivery can be carried out approximately in the last weeks of pregnancy or above the 32nd week.
What conditions require milking colostrum before giving birth?
Some conditions where the mother may need to redden colostrum before birth to support the baby's needs, namely:
- If the mother has diabetes during the pregnancy process, because babies born to mothers with diabetes tend to have a risk of suffering from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) 24 hours after birth. Babies need colostrum immediately to maintain blood sugar levels.
- If the mother has breast hypoplasia (a condition that causes breast growth to be limited) or if the mother has previously had surgery in the breast area.
- If the baby has abnormalities in the mouth and has been detected since pregnancy. Babies may find it difficult to suck directly from the mother's nipples, making it easier to give milk colostrum.
- If the baby has congenital abnormalities such as Down syndrome or heart complications.
- If the baby is born by caesarean section or premature birth. Although in the process of caesarean birth the implementation of early breastfeeding initiation is still possible, but it is likely that the mother will soon be separated from the baby. For that, it would be better for the mother to milk the colostrum first so that it can be immediately given to the baby.
- If babies are born twins, it is certainly rather difficult to directly breastfeed more than one baby at the same time.
- If there are offspring allergic to cow's milk protein or type 1 diabetes, then you might want to minimize the use of formula milk. So, it's good for the mother to prepare colostrum first so that after the birth process, the baby can immediately receive colostrum.
It would be better if the mother can breastfeed the baby directly, but if the situation is not possible then milking before birth can be done. Consult first with the midwife or doctor regarding this matter.
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