Composition of breast milk
If you want to know more about the composition of breast milk and information about the quality of breast milk, read the composition here. Breast milk is very complex in composition. For most children, breast milk provides sufficient energy and nutrients for the first six months. The only exception to this is vitamin K and vitamin D. In addition, there are a large number of substances in breast milk that protect the child against diseases.
Colostrum, transition milk, mature breast milk
Colostrum is breast milk from the first days after birth. From about two weeks after birth, the breast gives mature mother’s milk. The milk in the intervening period is called transition milk. Colostrum contains relatively large amounts of substances that protect the child against diseases. In addition, this first mother’s milk is rich in substances such as cholesterol, albumin, phospholipids, vitamins A, E and K, sodium, zinc and selenium. Colostrum contains relatively little water, lactose and fat.
During the transition from colostrum to mature breast milk the concentration of protective substances decreases. Because the child drinks more as it gets older, it still receives sufficient protective substances. The composition of breast milk also changes gradually during feeding itself. The breast makes one type of milk whose fat content can vary, depending on the time between two foods. Babies indicate when they have enough and usually let go of the breast.
In addition to nutrients, breast milk contains many different protective substances that promote the health of the child and reduce the risk of all kinds of infections and diseases. Which substances are involved and how they work is only partly known. Furthermore, there are indications that breast milk promotes the development of the child’s immune system so that the child can start to produce more antibodies and extra resistance increases. The following substances in breast milk are known to play a role in the protection against infections: • Lactoferrin prevents germs that cause disease to multiply in the intestines and make the child ill. • Lysozyme damages the cell wall of bacteria and thereby makes them harmless. • Oligosaccharides prevent bacteria from attaching to the intestinal wall. • The substance sIgA (an immunoglobulin) protects against intestinal and respiratory diseases. • Complement factors are important for the child’s resistance. They clear up micro-organisms and stop inflammation. • Leucocytes kill bacteria and probably affect the maturation of the child’s gastrointestinal tract. • Growth factors, nucleotides and polyamines in mother’s milk stimulate the growth and maturing of the intestinal tract and therefore prevent the ingress of microorganisms. Breast milk can in principle be fine-tuned for the baby. But it may be that more calories or fat-free food is needed. Just measuring the fat content via lactation consultant is already possible. This can happen if a child turns out to be dissatisfied on breast milk, without any underlying cause (despite good breastfeeding policy). It is then quite interesting to check the other compositions as well. The composition of breast milk is reasonably the same, but for example the fat content may depend on the fat composition of what you eat as a mother. Sufficient fat in the milk gives a satiating feeling to the baby and also promotes the chance to sleep through in the night. There have been several studies on this. Several bodies have investigated the composition of breast milk. The tabs can be downloaded.