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Colostrum

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

Some women notice leaking from their nipples during pregnancy, and this is normal. In pregnancy, the breasts may start to produce milk weeks or months before you are due to have your baby.


If your nipples are leaking, the substance is usually colostrum, which is the first milk your breasts make in preparation for feeding your baby. Leaking is normal and nothing to worry about.


This yellowish, somewhat sticky fluid will be your baby’s first superfood until your real milk comes in, around the third or fourth day postpartum(the period after childbirth).


Until then your baby will need just a few teaspoons of the antibody-rich colostrum per feeding for all her nourishment. And though it will seem like only a little colostrum is there, your breasts will be producing more than your little one will need to fill her tiny tummy.


Your breasts are leaking during pregnancy because the prolactin hormone, the hormone responsible for milk production after the birth of your baby, becomes more active while you are still pregnant, usually in the third trimester.


Colostrum
Colostrum

What you can do for leaky breasts during pregnancy?

  • You can use cotton pads, either disposable or reusable ones.

  • Your breasts may not leak that much, a few drops and it can be managed by using pads.


Colostrum consists of -

Your colostrum is also made up of components that protect your newborn and help them fight off infection, illness, and disease.

  • Colostrum is higher in protein and low in fat and sugar compared to transitional and mature breast milk, making it easier to digest and nutrient-packed.

  • Colostrum is full of antibodies, white blood cells, and other immune properties.

  • The high levels of secretory immunoglobulin A found in colostrum protect your baby's GI tract and help to kill off viruses and bacteria.

  • Colostrum is a natural laxative. It helps your infant move their bowels and get rid of the meconium(the first poop).


The colostrum phase of breast milk production lasts until the transitional stage begins (between the second and fifth days after birth). The transitional phase of breast milk production starts when your milk comes in. This second stage of milk contains a mixture of colostrum and mature breast milk.


Colostrum will continue to be present in your breast milk. Small traces of colostrum can still be found in your breast milk for about six weeks. During this time, you will see a big increase in the amount of breast milk that you are making.



Note - Check with your doctor before you start expressing your colostrum. Your doctor will be able to guide you. It’s important to note that leaking colostrum during pregnancy doesn’t mean that you will have too much milk once your baby is born. And not leaking milk during pregnancy doesn’t mean you will have less milk when the baby arrives.


Key points to remember -

  • Even though you will only make a small amount of colostrum, you should still breastfeed your baby as often as possible during this stage.

  • Do not wait until your breast milk comes in to start breastfeeding. The more you breastfeed your baby colostrum, the quicker (and more abundantly) your milk supply will come in.

  • Colostrum offers big health benefits for your baby, but they can only take in small amounts at a time. So they need many short nursing sessions per day to get what they need.

  • Breastfeeding regularly during the colostrum stage also prepares your body to produce a healthy supply of breast milk.

  • You might be making 1 to 2 ounces of colostrum a day, rest assured that your infant is getting enough breast milk during the first few days. In the majority of cases, they don't need a formula.



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