Breast milk is magical. Did you know that breast milk adapts to exactly what your baby needs at any given time? It is different during the daytime to night time, in hot weather and in cold weather, when your baby is extra hungry or extra thirsty and when your baby is going through a growth spurt.
When your baby is first born your breasts produce colostrum – also referred to as ‘liquid gold’. It is a thick golden coloured superfood rich in nutrients, antibodies and white blood cells which all help to mature and develop baby’s immune system. As baby’s stomach is only the size of a marble for the first few days of life, the colostrum really needs to pack a punch in order to give baby the best start to life outside of the womb. Colostrum is hugely important for baby’s growth; containing proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins to aid this.
After a few days your ‘milk comes in’ and your breasts create ‘transitional’ milk. The milk volume increases and around 14 days postpartum your breasts will be producing ‘mature’ milk. Breast milk changes throughout a feed too. The milk that comes first, the ‘foremilk’, is more of a ‘watery’ consistency – this is then followed by ‘hindmilk’ which is fattier. During a feed the breast milk becomes gradually fattier; this is why it’s important to let baby properly ’empty’ the breast before offering the other. Remember that breast milk is both food & water for a baby. Therefore in hot temperatures the milk adapts so that baby is able to stay hydrated.
We’re currently having a heatwave so I decided to compare my expressed breast milk from a day with an average temperature and a day where we hit 22 degrees celsius. The hot day breast milk visibly had a lower fat content so appeared more ‘watery’ and slightly blue in colour (pictured above). The milk from the average temp day appeared creamier and thicker as it is higher in fat. You may also find that baby feeds little and often during these times. For example Reuben usually feeds every 3-4 hours but during hot weather he can feed more like every 1-2 hours. This makes perfect sense as we too drink more and encourage our children to have more fluids in the heat.
The more I learn about breast milk the more I am in awe of it’s power and capabilities. It’s like a chameleon – able to adapt to any given environment and circumstance effortlessly. I wish there was more education for expectant mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding. I had no idea about the different types of milk, that the milk adapts, changes with the baby’s development etc. I’ve spent many a night googling about breast milk and being amazed. Did you know you can even use breast milk on your baby’s skin, on stretch marks etc. too? Mind blowing.
I feel very fortunate to be lucky enough to give my baby my ever changing breast milk which is perfect for all of his needs.