What's in Breast Milk?
Brought to you by Discovery Vitality
The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of The Walt Disney Company Africa Ltd. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s).
Many of us are familiar with the various constituents in formula or baby food, but many people don’t know the constituents of breast milk. Nature has perfected the recipe better than we can ever hope to. Here are the main “ingredients” found in human breast milk.
Colostrum (the starter)
Colostrum is the first milk that is produced, and is usually pale yellow in colour. Colostrum contains protein, minerals and antibodies, but not much fat. It may not seem like much, and parents often ask if this will be enough to feed their baby during the first few days. Don’t let the small quantity and watery texture fool you: colostrum is the perfect starter food.
Mature milk (the main course)
After a couple of days of colostrum, baby is now ready for the main course, mature breast milk, which is continually produced until you have weaned. At each feed, the main course begins with the more watery ‘foremilk’, followed by a more fatty ‘hind milk’.
Breast milk typically contains:
• Protein: whey and casein
• Carbohydrates, primarily in the form of lactose
• Vitamins: A,D,E and K (the fat-soluble vitamins) as well as vitamins B and C (water-soluble vitamins)
• Minerals: folate, sodium, iron, calcium etc.
• Immunoglobulin A: an antibody that protects against infections
• Friendly bugs: hundreds of bacteria that are good for health
Thank the chef
The human body is truly remarkable, and mothers making breast milk are like world-class chefs, tailoring their milk exactly to their infant’s needs. Behind the scenes, the exact composition of breast milk and the amounts of more than 200 elements are continually tweaked according to the mother’s general health and the infant’s developmental demands.
The information in this article is intended for general purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.