Colostrum: The Alternative or Adjunct to Breastmilk

Colostrum: The Alternative or Adjunct to Breastmilk

Bovine colostrum may provide the best substitute and/or complement to breastmilk 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 that help fortify a baby’s immune system and put him or her on the path to good health.

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. Some breastfeeding proponents even recommend 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.

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.

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

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.

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 can supplement their breastfeeding with bovine colostrum to help their infants receive the benefits of the immune and growth factors necessary to promote healthy newborn growth and development. Bovine colostrum supplementation may be particularly beneficial for infants who are not thriving (i.e., “failure to thrive”). Also, moms can supplement with bovine colostrum to help fortify their own bowel and immune health so they can better deal with the stress of motherhood.

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