What Is Breast Milk?

The best way of feeding your baby is to give your natural breast milk. This is an easy and inexpensive way for you to take care of, bond and feed your baby.

Milk from the breast contains a balance of nutrients that supplies baby needs for brain growth, development and a healthy immune system.

Breast milk is documented to be the best food possible for infants and breastfeeding is known to have enormous health benefits for moms, too. However, breast milk has even more amazing properties. Breast milk has immunologic agents and other bodies that fight against viruses, parasites and bacteria.

Human milk is helpful since the baby’s immune system is not yet well established until age 2, breast milk gives the necessary protection your baby needs over formula preparation.

Breast Milk Properties

Colostrum is low in fat and carbohydrates. As a result, there are smaller amount calories in breast milk for the first few days of a baby’s life. The yellowish colour of colostrum is due to high levels of beta carotene (10 times more than is found in mature milk). It also contains elevated levels of vitamin E and zinc. Each 100 ml of breast milk provides approximately:

  • 2.9 g fat
  • 3.7 g protein
  • 5.3 g carbohydrates
  • 58 calories

Breast Milk Protein – milk is mostly whey, which is easier to digest than casein (main protein in cow’s milk). Protein of breast milk has high amounts of amino acid taurine, which has an important role in the development of the brain and the eyes. We think of proteins as the building blocks of muscle and bone. But proteins serve a wide range of other functions, including defense against pathogens.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is a protein that fights viruses,intestinal parasites, and bacteria. Like other antimicrobial factors in human breast milk, it protects the respiratory and intestinal tracts of infants that drinks breast milk.

Fats in breast milk are basically self-digesting because of its lipase content, which breaks down the fat easily. Fat is the main source of calories for babies and babies need enough amounts of calories for growth and development. In addition, fat in human milk has large amounts of certain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development (provided the mother eats those good omega-3 fats herself).

Vitamins and minerals in breast milk are “bioavailable”, which means they get absorbed well. Breast milk contains substances that enhance the absorption of minerals and vitamins. It also contains:

  • Cholesterol in concentrations ranging from 100 to 150 mg/L
  • Calcium in concentrations ranging from 254 to 306 mg/L
  • Sodium in concentrations ranging from 140 to 220 mg/L
  • Phosphorus in concentrations ranging from 188 to 262 mg/L
  • Vitamin C in concentrations of 50 to 60 mg/L (assuming the mother consumes more than 100mg vitamin C each day)
  • Magnesium in concentrations of about 35 mg/L

In addition, it contains right amounts of copper, zinc, nicotinic acid, iodine,pantothenic acid, and vitamin A. Breast milk contains trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals (including D, E, K and B vitamins) and a mass of hormones, anti-infectious agents, and growth factors.

What Are The Benefits Of Breast Milk?

Breast milk is best for your baby and it is beneficial for your health too. Find out the benefits it can bring to you and your precious little one.

For The Mother

  • Breastfeeding mothers have lower risk of some health problems, such as diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
  • Baby’s sucking will stimulate the mother’s body to produce a hormone that is responsible for uterine contraction which makes the uterus go back to its normal pre-pregnancy state and reduces blood loss after child birth.
  • According to research, mothers who give breast milk to their babies have less incidence of postnatal depression.
  • A breastfeeding mother gets wonderful benefits from it because of the bond established when interacting with her baby and gets satisfaction from the fact that she’s providing healthy nutrition to her little one.
  • Giving breast milk for longer periods of time (up to 2 years) and among younger mothers can potentially reduce the risks of ovarian and breast cancer.

For Your Baby

  • A mother’s milk has disease-fighting antibodies that protect babies from different kinds of childhood infections and illnesses such as ear infections, lung problems and diarrhoea.
  • It gives your baby the right balance of nourishment to help your baby grow into a healthy and strong child.
  • It also helps prevent your baby from having allergies. Fathers, partners, and other people in the mother’s support system can benefit from breastfeeding, too. Not only are there no bottles to prepare, but many people feel warmth, love, and relaxation just from sitting next to a mother and baby during breastfeeding.

Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

Your baby is getting enough milk if you can see him relaxed and satisfied and your breast feel softer after each feeding. As a result, your baby gains weight after his first week of life. In addition, a five to eight wet diapers, three or more stools a day and then will have two or less a day is an indication that your baby is properly fed.

How To Produce More Breast Milk?

This is a common question among mums. But just because breastfeeding is natural, doesn’t mean it is always easy. Fortunately, while many breastfeeding challenges may seem difficult, most are easily solved. The breast is a gland consisting primarily of connective and fatty tissues that support and protect the milk producing areas of the breast. The milk is produced in small clusters of cells called alveoli. The milk travels down ducts to the nipples. There are really no definite food items which cause enhanced production of breast milk, but there are some things which can help you.

Let the baby feed more frequently on your breast and for longer periods of time. When your baby suckles, the body receives a signal that it needs more milk thereby production is triggered. Often, simply allowing your baby to suckle longer and more often can quickly increase the amount of breast milk your body produces naturally.

Keep yourself hydrated. Your body can not naturally produce milk if you are dehydrated. So, drink at least 1 glass of water every hour while you are breast feeding your baby. By doing this you will create a supply that will continue to produce even if you have gone asleep.

How To Express Breast Milk?

Pumping Breast Milk
There is a wide array of breast pumps available in the market. Breast pumps may be hand-operated (manual) or work by battery or electricity. Hospital-quality pumps are available for rent through medical supply stores. Personal models that are easy to carry are available for purchase. You should find the type that is comfortable for you to use and allows you to collect your breast milk in a reasonable period of time.The most dependable and comfortable pumps are electric. Electric pumps create and release suction on their own and do not require much training to use.


  1. Place the flange in the correct position. The flange is the opening of the pump, the part that goes to the breast, directly center the nipple in the middle. Bend forward a little and turn on the pump. Breast pump should be low and slow. And the nipple should be well drawn into the opening of the flange.
  2. The usual suggestion for pumping is about 15 minutes. Ideally, the mother should pump for seven minutes, stop for one minute, massage, and then pump for another seven minutes.
  3. The supply of breast milk is highest between 1:00 to 5:00 in the morning. You can always find the help you need by contacting a board certified lactation consultant.

Watch this video on how to express breast milk using a manual single breast pump

How To Collect And Store Breast Milk?

When storing breast milk for home use, make sure that your hands are clean before expressing (pumping).

  • Use 2- to 3-ounce bottles or hard plastic cups that have been washed, rinsed well and sterilised. It should have a cap that fits snugly, such as a screw cap.
  • Always put a date on the milk?s container before freezing breast milk.

Fresh breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours, and refrigerated for 5 to 7 days.

Frozen milk can be kept:

  • For 2 weeks inside the freezer compartment.
  • For up to 3 or 4 months inside a separate door refrigerator or freezer.
  • For 6 months inside a deep freezer at constant 0 degrees.

Frozen and thawed milk can be refrigerated for up to 9 hours, but it should not be refrozen.

Don?t heat breast milk bottles in a microwave because overheating destroys the milk?s beneficial properties and heat can burn your baby. In addition, breast milk bottles may explode if forgotten in the microwave too long.

Thawing And Using Breast Milk

The two best ways to thaw frozen breast milk are:

  • By putting it in the refrigerator
  • By swirling it in a bowl of warm water

When leaving breast milk with a child care provider, make sure you label the container with your child’s name and the date.

  • Do not refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
  • Do not save breast milk from a bottle that has been used.
  • Never add fresh milk to frozen breast milk.
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