Composition of breast milk
Breast milk is the ideal food for an infant. Its unique and changing composition perfectly meets your baby’s needs. Breastfeeding or not is exclusively your decision. However if you can not or do not wish to breastfeed, healthcare professionals can advise you and help you choose a substitute product.
Breast milk is the ideal food for the newborn baby. This superiority arises from different specifications.
Breast milk contains all nutrients your baby needs. Due to its nutritional qualities, it is the ideal food to ensure your baby a normal healthy growth.
Furthermore, breast milk has a specific nutritional composition adapted to the infant’s immature digestive system thus enabling an optimal absorption of the infant’s needs in nutrients. Not only does the composition of breast milk change during feeding but also during the whole breastfeeding period to specifically meet the infant’s nutritional needs.
Breastfed infants are better protected against illnesses and infections. Breast milk contains antibodies and other protective factors, helping to protect your baby against common infections long before its own immune-system is completely developed.
The composition of breast milk depends on your diet. Speaking to your healthcare professional for advice in order to keep a healthy balanced diet adapted to the specific needs of breastfeeding is crucial.
In general, we notice that:
Protein and energy needs are high in order to support the milk production.
A well balanced lipid intake (source of essential fatty acids and DHA) is important for the optimal development of the infant’s brain.
Vitamin C and folic acid needs remain high and are even more important than during pregnancy.
Meanwhile, iron needs are lower than during the last pregnancy trimester. The mum’s organism absorbs better the iron during the breastfeeding period and the absence of period prevents from iron losses.
Although vitamin A needs are increased during the breastfeeding period, excessive large doses are toxic.
Other rules such as increased consumption of water, reduced intake of caffeine and tea and ban of alcohol apply.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding is a unique exchange moment with your baby and helps to create a physical and emotional bond. This moment of intensive pleasure helps creating a reassuring connection between your baby and yourself.