Your body is pretty amazing. Not only can it grow a baby but it can also give them everything they need to survive and grow through the first years of their life. Breastmilk delivers on all the good stuff: nutrients, proteins, carbs, fats and water. It gets better. You probably already know that breastmilk increases and decreases in line with your baby’s appetite. But did you know its composition changes to support your baby’s growth as well?
In the first few days
You might have heard that breastfeeding is important in the first few days. That’s because the first milk you’re producing, known as colostrum, is packed with disease-fighting compounds that can help to protect your baby against illness. You’ll only produce a tiny amount of it but that’ll be enough to arm your baby against infections, line and seal their gut, and prepare them to take their first poo.
The following couple of weeks
By this point, baby has got a taste for milk and their appetite is on the increase. Your body will be one step ahead and should increase its milk production to accommodate how much your baby wants to feed. Expect your breasts to feel firmer, fuller and bigger than usual. At this point, your milk is making the switch from colostrum to mature milk and you’ll likely hear it referred to as ‘transitional milk’. It’s still packed with good bacteria, infection-fighting antibodies and live cells like the colostrum but there’s more to it in terms of calories, fat and lactose.
After four weeks
Your breastmilk matures at this point and will remain pretty much consistent from now on in terms of nutrition and its ingredients. Your baby is still receiving a generous dose of vitamins and minerals, sugar and protein. The most incredible part? If your baby gets ill, your body will know about it and then begin producing antibodies to fight off the illness. These will then be passed onto your baby when you next breastfeed them.
After six months
You can breastfeed for as long as you choose to and providing you’re feeding or expressing your milk regularly, your body will keep producing this nutrient-rich milk. While it’s important to introduce some solids at around six months, much of your baby’s daily nutrition should still be coming from milk feeds because it still contains almost all of the essential nutrients they need.