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Colostrum during pregnancy

Colostrum is a secretion of the female mammary glands, which is produced and released during pregnancy and in the first days after childbirth. In appearance, it is a liquid with a yellowish color, clear or creamy, thick consistency, a high viscosity and stickiness. Also, colostrum has quite a specific smell and tastes slightly sweet.

The discharge of colostrum is a completely normal physiological process in a female body gestating a fetus. After a period of its release, colostrum gives way to full-fledged human breast-milk, which a mom feeds her baby after birth.

When colostrum appears and begins to secrete during pregnancy

Colostrum during pregnancy - termsIn which term does colostrum appear during pregnancy? Usually this type of mammary secretion begins its synthesis under the action of the anterior pituitary hormone prolactin from the beginning of the second half of the pregnancy period, on average.

In general, the starting time for the formation of colostrum in every pregnant woman is different: someone starts a little earlier, and someone just before the birth of the child. But there are also situations where the colostrum is one of the first symptoms of early pregnancy.

In each of these cases, the most important thing is that the formation of colostrum falls during pregnancy, and this little beneficial secret is always awaiting its consumer.

[attention type=yellow]Contrary to the opinion of some women that colostrum is released from the mammary glands at the time it is synthesized, this liquid may not be secreted, even though it is present in the milk ducts. This is due to to the nature of the female organism: it leads an active preparation for appearance of the baby into the world, and even if no one currently consumes the colostrum, it still accumulates for future usage.[/attention]

The composition of colostrum

Colostrum during pregnancy - compositionColostrum is not just a liquid with a certain color and odor, but nor is it standard breast- milk. This is a so-called “prototype” of breast milk, containing a great amount of elements and chemical compounds beneficial to the child.

The biggest difference from breast milk, is that the chemical consistency of colostrum is more similar to blood and it is the most important period in feeding the baby: it is the transitional period between the parenteral type of nutrition of the child in the womb and breast-feeding.

Colostrum is very valuable in terms of energy, as it contains a lot more calories than breast milk. In addition, colostrum is not rich in water, which eliminates the possibility of overloading of the undeveloped kidneys of the fetus. The nutrients in colostrum have a several-times higher density.

In general, colostrum contains the following chemicals elements and ingredients:

  • Digestible proteins, primarily albumins and globulins with a low level of casein.
  • Fewer digestible fats and carbohydrates (lactose).
  • Natural antioxidants (vitamin A, vitamin E, carotene, selenium and zinc).
  • Factors of immune protection of the fetus – antibodies (immunoglobulin A, lactoferrin, lymphocytes, leucocytes, neutrophils, and other cells).
  • Growth factors for the baby – a number of hormones and peptides (insulin, cortisol, EGF, insulin-like growth factor).
  • A small amount of water.
  • Bacteria which constitutes normal flora of the human organism.

Such a composition of colostrum provides for easy digestion by the newborn organism, despite the high calorie and energy value.

The benefits of colostrum

  • Protection of child’s organism from external damaging effects with the help of immune defense. It is vitally important to the newborn his own immune system activates only at six months old, prior to which he remains highly vulnerable to infection.
  • Providing the baby’s gastrointestinal tract (especially intestines) with a population of normal human bacteria for a full assimilation of nutrients, normalization of stool and prevention of pathogens.
  • Accelerating the process of excretion of meconium (bowel movement stimulation) and the normalization of intestinal function with newly received nutrients.
  • Prevention of jaundice syndrome, which is achieved by binding the excess bilirubin in the blood and intestines of a newborn.
  • Providing the child with all necessary nutrients and minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant protection for a normal development of all organs and systems.
  • Increasing the rates of intestinal epithelial structures due to the action of growth factors.
  • Providing the synthesis of DNA molecules and the rapid growth and development of the child.
  • Control of lipid peroxidation and free radicals using antioxidant compounds, which is aimed at the destruction of cell membranes.

Signs of a normal colostrum discharge

Colostrum during pregnancy - normalIf the formation and discharge of colostrum experiences no pathological processes, a woman can easily identify a number of its characteristics.

Colostrum normally has a yellowish tint, and as you get closer to the birth of the baby it becomes more transparent. It may occasionally have bloody streaks, which is perfectly normal and is due to hormonal changes in the organism of the pregnant woman.

The quantity of colostrum differs from woman to woman: in some, it is released in the form of a few drops, and in others – in large volumes. A large amount of released colostrum may also be due to the action of stimulating synthesis factors, such as an intimacy, the impact of stressful situations and emotional stress, increased body temperature, massages, taking a hot bath or shower.

[attention type=yellow]Normally, the colostrum may be a conductor of sensitivity changes in the mammary glands. A woman may feel a burning sensation, pinching, tingling in the nipple area, but no painful symptoms.[/attention]

Signs of an abnormal discharge of colostrum

Colostrum during pregnancy - abnormalOne of the most obvious manifestations of abnormalities in the discharge of colostrum is intense pain. This can be a sign of inflammation of the mammary glands (mastitis).

The pain can happen not only in the breast, but in the lower abdomen and lower back. In this case, the pain is cramping in nature and may be a harbinger of increased uterine tone, which in turn raises the possibility of premature labor.

In case of continued presence of large amount of blood in colostrum do not delay medical help, as this is a clear sign of pathology: this symptom can signify ordinary inflammation, as well as the growth of a tumor, including malign tumors.

An unpleasant, harsh, fetid odor of discharge from the breast indicates the presence of bacteria in the milk ducts, and the development of infections. Typically, this symptom is accompanied by pain, fever, weakness and decreased energy. Infections of the mammary glands increase the risk of their transmission to the child prenatally, while he is still in the womb, as well as during breast-feeding after birth.

If the discharge of colostrum happens without a pregnancy, it means, that the content of anterior pituitary hormones – oxytocin and prolactin – have increased in the female body. Again, this could indicate the presence of inflammation or cancer.

[attention type=red]It is particularly important in the event of abnormalities to immediately notify your gynecologist. This can help to avoid serious complications and to preserve the health of the woman and her baby.[/attention]

What to do and how to take care of the breasts, if there is discharge of colostrum

At the beginning of the formation and release of the fluid from mammary glands, first thing is not to panic – this is nothing terrible and difficult, rather simply a new period of gestation is taking place. Following these simple rules will make it easier and help the future mom with this condition:

  • It is necessary to wear bras specially designed for pregnant women and nursing mothers, which are made only from natural fabrics, soft to the touch, of a proper fit, and not constricting the breasts.
  • It is necessary to follow breast hygiene using the procedure of washing them with clean warm water twice a day. Using soap is contraindicated, as it may cause cracks on the nipples, and their subsequent inflammation or infection.
  • Only use a soft towel and no sharp movements when wiping the breasts. Do not rub the breasts, it is best to gently blot them.
  • For convenience and prevention of leaks on clothing, use a specially designed pads (you can use pads made of cotton, handkerchiefs or gauze). They are placed in the space between the bra and nipple, and are changed regularly to prevent the growth of microorganisms in a favorable environment.
  • Do not massage the breasts or nipples in particular.
  • Do not pump colostrum.
  • you can use moisturizing creams for the prevention of stretch marks and cracks in the mammary glands.
  • Undoubtedly, it is important to have a full and balanced diet with a reduction in consumption of carbohydrates (flour, sugar, potato dishes, rice) and an increase of animal and vegetable proteins, fruits and vegetables.

Recommendations for future mothers

Colostrum during pregnancy - recommendations

The pregnant woman, ready with a reserve of the first milk for her baby – colostrum – in the mammary glands, is awaiting his birth, and now the most important thing is to deliver to the newborn this valuable glandular secretion. The ideal option is attachment of the baby to the mother’s breast in the very first hour after birth.

The most important thing for the little human being is to receive the protective and nutritional qualities of the mother’s colostrum, so it is important to keep him latched to the breast for at least 20 minutes. In this case, the baby will get everything necessary for his normal development and health. Try to be with the child together as long as possible, and feed him colostrum on demand. This will not only strengthen the connection between the two of you, but quickly teach the newborn to suckle, without injuries to the mother, and stimulate the lactation function of the mammary glands.

Colostrum is the most valuable breast secretion of pregnant and feeding women, which the body begins to produce in advance of the birth of a child, and which represents an important period of changing nutrition types after birth. It is an indispensable kind of food for the newborn, which helps his organism to adapt to the new environment, protect against pathogenic influences, grow healthy and develop fully – to the joy of his parents.

[attention type=green]Every pregnant woman faces the condition of discharged colostrum, and even those women who are only planning to conceive a baby, have heard about this remarkable physiological secretion of the female body. Share your experiences and provide your personal recommendations in respect to colostrum discharge during pregnancy and in what month it started for you.[/attention]

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