Colostrum: The Alternative or Adjunct to Breastmilk

The Alternative to Breastmilk

Bovine colostrum may provide the best substitute and/or addition to breast milk for mothers who cannot breastfeed, have adopted a baby, or need to supplement their baby’s formula. Colostrum was designed by nature as the first food for infants and contains critical nutritional factors to help fortify a baby’s immune system and put him or her on the path to good health.

Now, let’s take a look at breastmilk, baby formula, and colostrum, as well as how bovine colostrum supports newborn growth and development, regardless of whether mothers provide newborns with breastmilk or baby formula.

What Is Breastmilk? 

Breastmilk is milk produced by a mother’s breasts and serves as the primary source of nutrition for newborns. A mother’s body begins full-scale breastmilk production approximately 48 to 96 hours before birth, according to BabyCenter. However, it is important to note that a breastfed newborn won’t receive breastmilk in the first few days after birth; instead, the baby will receive colostrum.

Colostrum is a pale, yellow milk that a mother’s breasts initially produce after birth. It is rich in antibodies, protein, minerals, white blood cells, and other powerful nutritional components. Colostrum also has a slightly laxative effect and helps a newborn remove meconium, a waste product that forms before birth, from the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Ultimately, colostrum is packed with GI- and immune-boosting components, which means even a small amount of colostrum can have far-flung effects on a newborn’s growth and development.

Within about two to four days after birth, a mother will start to produce mature milk. This breastmilk is available in far greater quantities than colostrum and includes a combination of amino acids, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, water, and white cells. After a few weeks, a mother’s breastmilk will start to contain fewer white cells and greater quantities of lysozyme, an antibacterial enzyme. Meanwhile, the amount of breastmilk that a mother produces will increase over time based on a baby’s weight and appetite. This will continue until a baby consumes solid food as part of a diet. 

What Is Breastfeeding?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers breastfeed their babies in the first six months after birth. Breastfeeding helps newborns achieve optimal growth and development, WHO states.

After the first six months, WHO recommends mothers provide their children with complementary foods in conjunction with breastfeeding. Mothers can continue to breastfeed their kids for up to two years, according to WHO. The Center for Nutritional Research recommends 2-4 years of breastfeeding to ensure optimal physical and mental development.

Breastfeeding offers a number of benefits for both moms and newborns, including:

  • It ensures newborns can get breast milk. Breastfeeding enables newborns to get the breast milk they need to enjoy healthy growth and development.
  • It helps moms bond with their babies. Breastfeeding provides an unprecedented bonding experience for both mom and baby.

It may help reduce a mom’s risk of certain types of cancer. Studies have shown that breastfeeding may help moms lower their risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding rates are rising across the United States, which is reflected in recent data.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four out of five infants started to breastfeed in 2013. More than half of infants were breastfeeding at six months, CDC reported. CDC also noted nearly one-third of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months.

Breast milk contains protein, vitamins, fats, and other nutritional factors to help a newborn grow. Moreover, breast milk includes antibodies to help a baby combat harmful bacteria and viruses.

WebMD points out babies who are breastfed may be less susceptible to ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea than those who are not breastfed. In some studies, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood, WebMD states. 

The commitment to breastfeeding may be difficult for some women. A breastfed baby usually needs to be fed every 1.5 to 3 hours, which means a new mom will have to take frequent breaks to feed her baby. Sometimes, medications and/or illicit drugs that a mother takes following birth may be passed to the baby through breast milk. Donor breast milk can also be problematic because the donor’s health or medication use may put the infant at risk. In these situations, adding bovine colostrum to formula is ideal. 

Moreover, nursing moms frequently struggle to determine whether a baby is getting the right amount of breastmilk at each feeding. Plus, the need for hydration is tied in with adequate breastfeeding. Even with breastfeeding, a baby may not get the water that he or she needs. As such, following breastfeeding with a bottle of water (mixed with colostrum) is a good idea. 

Colostrum vs. Breastmilk: Which Is Better? 

Breastfed newborns receive both colostrum and breastmilk after birth. Mothers produce colostrum after birth, followed by mature milk in the weeks and months to follow. Both colostrum and breastmilk are loaded with antibodies, minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional components that promote healthy growth and development. That way, newborns can get the nutritional support that they need to maintain the immune function, enhance the GI, and much more.

Some studies have shown that bovine colostrum may be beneficial for newborns, even after a mother’s colostrum transforms into mature milk. For example, one study of bovine colostrum for preterm infants revealed it is feasible to use bovine colostrum as a supplement to mother’s own milk (MM) in the first few weeks after birth. The use of bovine colostrum may even help preterm infants improve their protein intake as well.

What Is Baby Formula? 

Although many globally recognized healthcare and medical organizations say breastfeeding is the best choice for babies, baby formula may serve as an option for mothers who are unable to breastfeed.

Formula feeding offers many benefits for both moms and babies, including:

  • It is convenient. A formula-fed baby can be fed by anyone, at any time.
  • It provides immense flexibility. Moms don’t have to worry about incorporating breast-pumping into their schedules; instead, they can leave formula for a babysitter or day care provider to give to their babies.
  • It can become easier to schedule regular feedings. For moms who want to get their babies on regular feeding schedules, formula may help them do just that.

Baby formula provides newborns with essential nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Dozens of baby formula options are available, and choosing the right one may be challenging for new moms.

Many baby formulas consist of cow’s milk or soybeans, and specialized formulas are available for babies who are allergic to milk or soy proteins. Regardless of which baby formula that a mother selects, it is important to choose one that is iron-fortified to minimize the risk of anemia.

Furthermore, formula does not contain the immune factors, such as antibodies, that breast milk contains; antibodies help an infant fight off disease-causing microbes.

Which Is Better: Breastmilk or Baby Formula? 

Breastmilk is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for newborns for the first six months after birth. It is generally easier to digest than formula, provides natural antibodies that protect newborns against illness, and may help reduce the risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes, asthma, and other medical conditions.

Baby formula is a healthy breastmilk alternative. It is convenient and flexible to provide to newborns and represents a viable option for mothers who cannot breastfeed.

For newborns who receive breastmilk or baby formula, bovine colostrum supplementation may be beneficial. Colostrum supplementation may help individuals of all ages protect and heal the GI and stomach lining, remove harmful pathogens, prevent and eliminate diarrhea from infectious causes, and boost natural killer (NK) cell activity.

What Is the Significance of Colostrum? 

Colostrum is “the perfect first food” for babies, according to La Leche League International. It is a breast secretion that is yellowish in color, has a thick consistency, and feels sticky.

Colostrum is produced during the pregnancy of female mammals and is provided to the baby during the initial days of breastfeeding. It has a high concentration of nutrients to promote a baby’s growth and development.

In addition, colostrum provided to a newborn in the days after birth may have a laxative effect on a baby and may help prevent jaundice.

Colostrum includes proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional factors to help a baby fight off disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses. It also contains antibody levels that are at least 100 times higher than levels in regular cow’s milk. Colostrum contains growth factors that heal the microscopic holes in an infant’s gut within 72 hours of birth and promote healthy growth and development.

Colostrum LD® from Sovereign Laboratories is a bovine colostrum supplement in a class all its own. It is safe for consumption in any amount and has been shown to help bolster the immune function, protect and heal the gastrointestinal (GI) and stomach lining (leaky gut), eliminate harmful pathogens and infections, and much more. As a result, Colostrum LD™ is an ideal supplement for babies, moms, and people of all ages.

Why Should Moms Choose Bovine Colostrum? 

Bovine colostrum is not an alternative to breastfeeding, but it is an excellent alternative or addition for moms who cannot breastfeed or currently use baby formula.

Moms whose breastmilk is not substantial enough (i.e., her infant is not thriving) can supplement their breastfeeding with bovine colostrum to ensure that an infant is receiving the benefit of the immune and growth factors necessary to promote healthy newborn growth and development. Also, moms can supplement with bovine colostrum to fortify their own bowel and immune health so they can better deal with the stress of motherhood.