Uniquely tailored to meet your baby's needs
Your breast milk is unique to you and your baby and designed to support them from their very first hours of life. With complex carbohydrates, proteins, LCPs (
Why breast milk is best
Breast milk is the only food designed especially for your baby and contains all the nutrition they need for the first six months of life. It’s a complex substance which has been researched for many years. And while it’s known to contain the perfect combination of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and other substances needed for your baby's healthy development, there’s still much more to be learned about breast milk.
What is certain is that breast milk is full of antibodies that help boost your baby’s ability to fight off the infections that you’ve had in the past. Breast milk is also unique to each mum with
Breast milk and immunity
Colostrum, the yellowish coloured milk your body produces after giving birth, is full of germ-fighting antibodies. It’s extremely concentrated, so your baby only needs a small amount at each feed, which may be quite frequent. These calorie-rich first feeds coat the lining of your baby’s gut to help protect them from germs and reduce the risk of developing allergies at a later date.
As you continue to breastfeed, your breast milk will still contain antibodies. And as you come into contact with new infections, your breast milk will contain new antibodies which will automatically give your baby some immunity. What’s also incredible is that your breast milk will vary in taste according to what you’ve eaten – which in turn means your baby may be more likely to accept a wider range of tastes when it comes to weaning3.
What’s in breast milk?
Breast milk is naturally made up of the proteins whey and casein,
The main ways to include LCPs in your diet are by eating fish, eggs and meat. Oily fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon are a good source of both AA and DHA. LCPs can also be made by the body from the essential fatty acids found in leafy greens, nuts, vegetable oil and seeds. However, the process of converting the fats in these foods into beneficial DHA isn’t very efficient, which is why oily fish are considered the best source.
Your breast milk contains an enormous amount of antibodies that help to support your baby’s immune system.
Varying fat content
The amount of fat in breast milk varies during each individual feed, as well as from feed to feed during the day (24 hours). This variation in fat can be detected through the consistency of your breast milk. Sometimes it can appear thinner and more watery and as the fat content
Breast milk is rich in nucleotides, which are the building blocks for all cells in the body, including the immune system. Research has shown that nucleotides support the activity of certain cells within the immune system, helping protect the body against infection.
The oligosaccharides found in breast milk help to maintain your baby's healthy gut flora by increasing the levels of friendly bacteria and decreasing the levels of potentially harmful bacteria. Feeding your baby’s natural friendly bacteria with a daily intake of oligosaccharides can be good for their digestion and help support their immune system – just two of the important nutritional roles your breast milk plays.
1. Jensen RG. Handbook of milk composition. London Academic Press 1995.
2. European Food Safety Authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies. Scientific opinion: DHA and ARA and visual development. EFSA Journal 2009;941:1-14.
3. Beauchamp G and Mennella J. Flavor Perception in Human Infants: Development and Functional Significance. Digestion. Mar 2011; 83(Suppl 1): 1–6.
Last reviewed: 28th July 2014
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.