An Overview of Breast Milk
You might have heard lactation experts and midwives talk about different types of breast milk, and it can be a little confusing to understand at first. Let’s talk about the different types of breast milk and begin to answer all your questions!
The very first kind of breast milk that you produce in the last trimester and immediately after birth is colostrum. Colostrum is small in volume but high in nutrition and immunity-building cells.
Colostrum is often called liquid gold because of how important it is! It contains important nutrients that help build gut immunity and helps clear meconium from your baby’s intestines.
Colostrum is usually produced in the third trimester and lasts 2-4 days after birth which is when you start making transitional milk.
It’s a good time to practice breastfeeding without the unwieldiness of milk since you’re producing a limited amount and your baby only needs a limited amount.
After 2-5 days, the mother stops producing colostrum and shifts into producing transitional breast milk.
Transitional milk is a mixture of colostrum and mature milk. It helps your baby transition to mature milk by gradually conditioning their gut.
The composition of transitional milk changes by the day, slowly building up to the increased nutritional demands of the baby.
You produce transitional milk from day 5 to approximately day15 postpartum.
The final form of milk produced and sustained is known as mature breast milk. Most mothers start producing mature milk at about week 2 postpartum.
Mature breast milk is composed of 87% water, 7% sugar (known as lactose), 4% fat, and 1% protein. This composition may vary to match your baby’s nutritional demands.
This type of breastmilk is what you produce for as long as you breastfeed. However, if the mother becomes pregnant during breastfeeding, the composition may go back to colostrum under hormonal influence.
Mature milk can be broken down further: fore-milk and hind milk.
Fore-milk: This type of milk is produced during the initial half of each feeding. It contains more water, vitamins, and protein and is the bulk of what fills your baby up.
Hind milk: This milk is produced at the end of each feeding. It contains higher levels of fat and contains the necessary components for weight gain. It is smaller in volume compared to foremilk.
We hope this helps you understand some of the differences between breastmilk and the changes that occur throughout your breastfeeding journey! If you ever have any questions, feel free to give us a call!