Colostrum is the first milk produced by the woman after giving birth to the baby. It is a nutrient-rich fluid, that plays a vital role in the baby’s growth and development during the initial days of life. It appears thicker and yellower compared to mature breast milk, earning it the nickname “liquid gold” due to its numerous health benefits. This valuable substance contains abundant antibodies, protein, and other essential nutrients that safeguard the baby against infections and strengthen its immune system. Hence, giving colostrum milk to the baby promptly after birth is crucial for their health and well-being.


Definition of Colostrum

Colostrum is the first milk after delivery produced by the mammary glands of mammals in the initial few days after giving birth. It is a thick, yellowish, and nutrient-rich fluid that is essential for the health and development of newborns.

The Importance of Colostrum for Newborns

Colostrum plays a vital role in providing newborns with the necessary nutrients and immunity to survive and thrive(growth) in their early days of life. It is often referred to as “liquid gold” due to its numerous benefits for the newborn. Here are some of the reasons why colostrum is so important:

  1. Provides Immunity: Colostrum is rich in antibodies, including immunoglobulins. Which are crucial for building the baby’s immune system. These antibodies provide passive immunity and protect the newborn from infections until their own immune system can develop.
  2. Promotes Growth and Development: Colostrum helps babies grow and develop by providing them with important nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains growth factors that help the baby’s body mature, especially their digestive system, so they can absorb nutrients from their food better.
  3. Helps with Bowel Movements: Colostrum acts as a natural laxative(A laxative is a substance that helps to promote bowel movements), helping to clear meconium, which is the newborn’s first bowel movement(pooping). This helps prevent the buildup of bilirubin, which can cause jaundice in newborns.
  4. Supports Bonding: Breastfeeding, which involves the transfer of colostrum from mother to baby, can be an intimate bonding experience for both mother and child.

In this section, we will discuss the composition of colostrum:

Composition of Colostrum

Colostrum is a rich and complex fluid that provides essential nutrients and antibodies for newborns. It contains higher levels of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals than mature milk, as well as a high concentration of immune cells and growth factors.

Nutrients Found in Colostrum

  1. Proteins: Colostrum consists of several proteins that enhance the immune system and offer defense against infections. These proteins include –> immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and cytokines. They work by boosting the immune system and providing protection against infections.
  2. Fats: Colostrum has higher levels of fats than mature milk, including essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs). Which play an important role in brain and eye development.
  3. Vitamins and minerals: Colostrum contains higher levels of vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. Which are essential for bone and tissue growth.

Comparison with Mature Milk

  1. Colostrum is thicker and more concentrated than mature milk, with a yellowish color and a thicker consistency.
  2. The protein content is much higher than that of mature milk, with up to 10 times more immunoglobulins and other immune cells.
  3. The fat content is also higher than that of mature milk, with more essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids LCPUFAs.
  4. The vitamin and mineral content is also higher than that of mature milk, with more vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.

Let’s discuss the benefits of colostrum:

Benefits of Colostrum

Colostrum is packed with essential nutrients that newborns need for healthy development. Here are some of the key benefits of colostrum:


Boosts Immune System

Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies, which are proteins that help fight off infections and diseases. These antibodies are especially important for newborns, whose immune systems are still developing. It also contains white blood cells, which help protect against harmful pathogens and viruses.

Provides Vital Nutrients for Growth

Colostrum is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fats, all of which are necessary for healthy growth and development. It also contains vitamins and minerals that are essential for building strong bones and muscles, as well as for maintaining healthy brain function.

Assists in digestion

Colostrum contains a high concentration of lactose, which is a natural sugar found in milk. Lactose helps stimulate the digestive system and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine. This can help prevent digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea.

Lowers Risk of Infections and Allergies

The antibodies found in this milk can help protect against a wide range of infections and diseases, including respiratory infections, and ear infections. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce the risk of allergies and other inflammatory conditions.

In this section, we will be discussing when to expect colostrum:

When to Expect Colostrum

Colostrum milk is the first milk delivery produced by lactating mothers after childbirth. It is crucial for newborns as it provides them with essential nutrients and antibodies that help build their immune system. Here is a detailed explanation of when to expect colostrum:

Timeline of Colostrum Production

Colostrum production begins during pregnancy and continues for a few days after birth. Around 16 to 22 weeks of gestation(gestation refers to the period of time during which a baby develops inside the mother’s uterus before birth), mothers begin to produce small amounts of colostrum. During the final weeks of pregnancy, the amount of colostrum produced increases significantly.

After delivery, colostrum is the first milk produced and is typically yellowish and thick. It is low in fat but high in protein, carbohydrates, and antibodies, its production usually lasts for three to five days before mature milk production begins.

Amount of Colostrum Produced

The amount of colostrum milk produced can vary from mother to mother, but it is generally lower in volume than mature milk. Newborns only require small amounts of it, typically about 2-10 mL per feeding in the first few days of life. As the baby’s stomach grows, the amount of colostrum consumed per feeding will increase. It is important to note that colostrum production does not depend on breast size or shape, but rather on the baby’s demand for milk.

Frequency of Feedings

In the first few days after birth, newborns need to be fed frequently, often every 1-3 hours. This helps stimulate milk production and ensures the baby is getting enough colostrum. As the baby grows and matures, the frequency of feedings may decrease, but it is still essential to feed on demand and not limit the baby’s access to the breast.


Colostrum is an essential part of a newborn’s diet, providing vital nutrients and antibodies needed for healthy growth and development. As we have discussed in this article, colostrum is packed with essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Which provides the necessary building blocks for the baby’s growth.

Moreover, it is an excellent source of immune-boosting compounds such as antibodies, white blood cells, and cytokines. These substances help to protect the baby from infections and illnesses during the first few weeks of life when the immune system is still developing.

It is important to note that colostrum is only produced in the first few days after delivery and its composition differs from that of mature milk. As such, this is crucial for new mothers to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after delivery to ensure that their newborns receive the benefits of colostrum.

Further Reading

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1 Comment

Kaviya · June 2, 2023 at 11:22 pm

Thank you for publishing the informative article on Colostrum. I appreciate the valuable knowledge I gained about its importance, benefits, and when to expect it.

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