Breastmilk: everything your baby needs
The welfare of their baby is the most important thing for new parents, they want to do everything for their physical and mental well-being. Nutrition plays a major role as the basis for healthy development. For the first four to six months, a baby feeds exclusively on milk. Undisputed, breast milk is and remains the best thing you can give your child. Because: In the mother’s milk is everything that a baby needs.
What are the benefits of breast milk?
Breastmilk is much more than just food. It contains everything what baby needs to grow and thrive. The composition of water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antibodies ensures a balanced, easily digestible and nutritious diet. But not only that: breastmilk is always at just right temperature and hygienically perfect to use. It contains antibodies that reduce the risk of intestinal problems, inflammation of the urinary tract and respiratory system, allergies and middle ear infections, and can even kill pathogens.
Always according to the baby’s needs
Studies have shown that diet at an early age plays a crucial role in further life. Babies who only use breastmilk during the first few months of life are less susceptible to overweight and autoimmune diseases (such as diabetes) later in life, are less likely to develop tooth decay, and develop cognitively better. Breast milk is extremely flexible. The concentrations of each ingredient, as well as the amount of milk, are adapted to the needs of the baby depending on the stage of development, season, day to day, meal to meal or illness. Every child gets their own milk, intended only for themselves.
Breastmilk production phases
The so-called first milk (colostrum) is already formed during pregnancy and is available to the newborn in the first two to three days. Colostrum is slightly yellowish due to the contained carotene, also viscous and particularly rich in nutrients and antibodies. These protect the baby from infections and stimulate his immune system. In addition, there is a lot of protein, vitamins and trace elements in this first breast milk. But it contains less fat and carbohydrates than the later breast milk. That makes them particularly easy to digest.
After the third day, for example, the composition of the milk changes gradually. The so-called transitional milk contains more fat and sugar. The amount of milk also increases, causing often the breasts to swell greatly. The milk intake in this phase is perceived by many young mothers as unpleasant. This transitional phase lasts about 14 days.
From about the third week, “mature” breast milk is produced. It contains significantly more fat and calories than the first milk and the transitional milk. But everything, what a baby needs for healthy development, is still there: fat, protein, sugar, vitamins and minerals. The mature milk changes over time. It even changes during each feeding as it meets various needs. First, the breast milk is used to quench the baby’s thirst and it contains mainly water and is thin. After the first few sips, the milk becomes thicker, fatter and calorie-rich, to satisfy the nutritional needs of the baby.
The composition of breast milk
Breastmilk consists of many valuable substances that always adapt to the nutritional needs of the growing baby. For every 100ml, breast milk has a nutritional value of about 67 calories, mostly composed of around 7g of carbohydrates, 4g of fat and 1.5g of protein plus many other nutrients. An overview of the individual ingredients makes it clear how rich and valuable breast milk is.
- Carbohydrates: the main carbohydrate in breast milk is lactose (milk sugar). Lactose is a disaccharide sugar and consists of glucose and galactose. It is digestible and has many indispensable functions: It promotes the absorption of amino acids and minerals and supports rapid brain growth. The indigestible carbohydrates, the so-called oligosaccharides (multiple sugars), are particularly important for a healthy intestinal flora. In the colon, for example, they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria.
- Lipids (fats): babies require a lot of calories (energy). They must grow, grow and grow. Fat is known to be a very good source of energy and breast milk is relatively fat (fatter than cow’s milk, for example). The important fats in breast milk are cholesterol and linoleic acid. With a total of 4% fat in breast milk, the amount of cholesterol is 25% and that of linoleic acid at 22%. For optimal brain development in the first few months, cholesterol plays a particularly important role. It is an important component of glial cells.
- Protein: the protein content of breast milk is 1.5%, which means that it is precisely adapted to the immature digestive system of the newborn. Larger amounts of protein (such as in cow’s milk with 3.5% protein) could not even digest it. Particularly noteworthy is the high proportion of whey proteins, a group of easily digestible proteins. Whey proteins do not stay in the stomach for a long time and put little strain on it. Protein is very important for baby’s growth. During digestion, the proteins are broken down into the very smallest building blocks, the amino acids, which ensure that the baby grows properly. Other proteins have a high protective effect, they fight off infections. These immunoglobulins, better known as antibodies, are transmitted by the mother with the milk to her child and thus support the child’s immune system.
many vitamins are present in breast milk. These are the most important ones:
- Vitamin A positively affects growth, skin, vision and the immune system.
- Vitamin E helps metabolism and protects the unsaturated fatty acids.
- Vitamin D and K are very important for bone formation and blood clotting.
- Vitamins of the B group regulate the energy metabolism and are good for nervous system and muscle regeneration.
- Vitamin C is one of the indispensable helper of the immune system. It plays a crucial role in the blood for the success of the defense.
- Minerals and trace elements: the essential minerals calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) strengthen the bones. Iron (Fe) is essential for the formation of red blood cells and brain development. Trace elements occur (as the name suggests) only in the smallest amounts, in traces. But these are precisely the quantities that the little baby’s body needs. Noteworthy are selenium (Se), which protects the cells, as well as chromium (Cr) and zinc (Zn), which participate in numerous metabolic processes.